As reported in the April 24 Washington Post, the largest energy deal in history was a $12.8 billion joint venture announced in February between state-owned Qatargas and oil majors Exxon Mobil and Total. A single $7 billion plant to be built by Exxon Mobil to turn natural gas into diesel (GTL) is the largest investment ever by America's largest company. Other companies are investing more billions into Qatar's natural gas resources. According to some economists, per capita income in Qatar will be the highest in the world.
While this is not earth-shaking news to most, it make the point very well -- big oil is interested in doing what they know best. Tar sands, heavy oil, renewables, etc do not have the ROI of natural gas and more conventional oil projects as long as their is something more profitable to do. The gas to oil facility uses fairly new technology (maybe not really, but it is new to big oil), but it has been well researched and working with a clean feedstock, like natural gas, is far easier than gasification and liquefaction of biomass or even coal. They will and perhaps they should (from their investors point of view) follow this road. It is up to governments to develop and demonstrate emerging technologies. Since the U.S. government does not seem to believe that we have as an urgent need, it is up to us to convince them that oil is running out soon and that we need to be working much harder to mitigate the coming crises. I have a minority belief that big oil does not have a much greater influence on the federal government than most other lobbyists do, rather it is not politically wise for the administration to solve any problems that are not immediately threatening. As long as EIA maintains that we do not have an immediate problem, they can hide their heads in the sands and ignore any other sources of information, including Bush's former advisor Simmons. The Hirsch report and the ORNL report are noble cries from the wilderness, but are they having any impact? In the final analysis the only ones they will listen to are the voters.