Saturday, May 3, 2008

Oil Companies and the Future

Will the Oil Companies in 2020 still sell oil? With record profits some oil companies see the writing on the wall and are making capital investments in alternative energy research and development. Companies such as BP and Conoco Phillips seem to be at least willing to invest a token amount in alternative energy projects, that would certainly be a prudent idea for a company that knows the product it sells will be obsolete and will vanish from the earth at some point.

The question is however, why would the profit laden oil companies even question making an investment in alternative fuel. If the fuel remains a liquid dispensed fuel the major Oil Companies have a tremendous amount of retail outlets. Wouldn't it make sense to develop a product that will utilize the infrastructure of their retail outlets. Exxon/Mobil, even though pushed by the shareholders, still refuses to make a major investment in the future.

The Corporate leadership of Exxon/Mobil seems oblivious to the future. A thoughtful leadership would take this rare opportunity of excessive profits and place a large investment in insuring that the retail outlets will continue beyond their tenure. With the combination of wealth and retail dominance Exxon/Mobil could insure that the stature and profits continue. Bio diesel refineries can be built and a fraction of the cost and regulations of an oil refinery. It would make sense to invest in them and find a biomass that is a quick grower without petroleum based fertilizer. This is where an investment in research would be the best investment that the oil companies could make. Exxon/Mobil spends more money on supporting anti-global warming projects than it does on researching an alternative energy source that it could replace the income flow that replacing oil would cause.

BP seems to be a leader in alternative energy investments, mostly in the solar and wind power segments of the Alternative Energy movement. Conoco Phillips is willing to invest in Bio diesel but not in the source of the biomass. The current propaganda is that the production of Ethanol is causing the rise in food prices. If this is true than a biomass that is not part of the food supply, is a fast grower, needs little maintenance, requires less acreage than corn, and the entire plant is able to be utilized.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both were fascinated with the hemp plant. Both were hemp farmers and realized the value that this plant had. The American Colonists used hemp to make, clothing, paper, rope, books and even distilled the plant to produce an oil. The Founding fathers were such men of foresight that they even left us the remedy for the crisis of today. Hemp is not in the food source can mature in four months, requires less acreage than corn and the entire plant can be used. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson experimented with cross breeding the hemp to achieve different properties.

Hemp is a viable alternative to corn for producing a Bio diesel.Washington and Jefferson would find it hard to swallow that they as farmers where restricted from growing such a productive and useful crop. Oil Companies should be lobbying for the legalization of hemp farming to feed a network of Bio diesel refineries that they could build locally and save on transportation costs to their retail outlets. Research grants to Universities with agricultural programs would enable them to find the most productive hybrid of the hemp plant that would yield the most biomass with the least amount of resources.

With a fraction of the record profits that the oil companies are now making they could invest in a progressive realistic energy source that is environmentally friendly, would create jobs, income for farmers, and maintain their retail operations in a renewable product that would become more efficient and cost effective as the years go on. A corporate leadership that led would be able to see and act upon alternatives and not on next quarter' s immediate profit.

Today 's Tidbit
Gasoline is 10 cents a gallon in Iraq. Didn't Vice President Cheney assure us that the oil revenues would pay for the invasion and occupation, although he called it the liberation of Iraq.

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