Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Can We Believe What Oil Companies Tell Us?

This morning I read about American Petroleum Institutes' lobbying and ad campaign starting soon. The oil industry will be staging rallies and running ads tying the sector to job creation and opposing tax changes and tougher drilling regulations. API represents everybody in the oil business: producers, refiners, suppliers, pipeline operators and marine transporters, and service and supply companies. As the Gulf oil spill clean-up continues, the climate change bill stalls in Congress, and the global auto industry takes on EVs and alternative fuels, I have some questions for API:

1. Is offshore oil drilling working out? Haven't there been many oil spill disasters right off America's shores in recent years, way beyond the Exxon Valdez debacle 21 years ago?

2. What's motivating major oil companies like Shell, Chevron, and BP to invest heavily in non-petroleum energy such as hydrogen and biofuels? Do they just want to look good and let OPEC continue to control them (which is what T. Boone Pickens would say)? Do they see that peak oil is coming up and it will get very expensive to produce the level of oil needed to keep prices in some kind of reasonable range? Are you concerned that gas and diesel prices will be going over $4 or $5 a gallon and people will throw up their hands and buy other fuels?

3. How does energy independence affect you? Does it concern you that China is investing heavily into EVs and alternatives to release bondage from foreign oil?

4. Will oil companies redesign their image and become energy companies instead of oil companies? Do they sense America is doing therapeutic recovery to get over its addiction to oil?

Looking forward to finding out.

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