Richard Branson, the man who brought us Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Trains, Virgin Cola, and Virgin Mobile (my UK cell phone provider) has announced his latest venture: Virgin Oil. Yes, that’s right, Branson is looking to expand into the oil business:
Sir Richard Branson is to put $100 million (�55 million) behind his plan to build an oil refinery for airline fuel.
The Virgin founder is to launch a new company called Virgin Oil within four or five months and is seeking to attract funding from other airlines and the Government.
He has held informal talks with Willie Walsh, the incoming British Airways chief executive, about the proposals. Virgin has also approached the Government over the plans and Sir Richard is hoping that those discussions will lead to talks with Gordon Brown.
Sir Richard is planning to build a $2 billion oil refinery in an attempt to beat the global surge in oil prices, lower the price of jet fuel and, in turn, reduce the price of an airline ticket.
It looks like Branson won’t focus just on the downstream aspect of the oil business, though, as he is looking to get into the exploration and production side, too:
Sir Richard also indicated that the Virgin team is drawing up plans for an oil exploration business. �We think there are ways of extracting oil from small fields that the major oil companies do not touch because they are not economical,� he said. He believes that as many as ten new refineries are needed to alter the price of oil and sustain lower prices.
Now I’m just waiting for easyJet (easyGroup) owner Stelios to step up and announce that he’ll be forming a rival oil company…easyOil, perhaps?