Iraq is 'an excuse'
The Iraq crisis is being used by anti-war protesters as an excuse to attack the oil business, according to a leading industry chief .
David O'Reilly, chairman and chief executive of Chevron Texaco said there was a view among some sections of the public that the conflict was about nothing but oil and that was not a good enough reason to go to war.
But he said that the diversity and continuity of the world's energy supply were vital strategic concerns.
"National security and energy security are not one and the same thing but they are clearly intertwined. It's hardly surprising that current events have put our industry in the spotlight," he told the Institute of Petroleum annual lunch at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
It was not unexpected that the Iraq conflict should be used by some as a vehicle to attack the industry.
"I am talking about the protests that say 'no blood for oil'," he said. "The slogan rests on two assumptions, first that the conflict with Iraq is about nothing but oil and second that energy security is not a legitimate reason - even as one among many -to go to war.
Mr O'Reilly said a recent Gallup poll showed that almost two thirds of Europeans saw Iraq as a threat to world peace, and a "shocking 70 per cent" believe that oil is the main reason the US wants to intervene in Iraq.
"You saw the many millions of people who protested around the world this past weekend and some of them surely hold that view. I would argue that "no blood for oil" has caught on partly because our industry's reputation is so impaired that the protesters can discredit action in Iraq simply by associating it with us."
He urged oil companies to boost their reputations and said the challenge would be with them regardless of whether there was a peaceful outcome in Iraq, Venezuela or North Korea.
"It we don't act together to address this challenge our prformance will be impaired and our basic mission imperilled."