Deloitte: Oil executives show support for alternative fuels

Most senior oil and gas professionals participating in a recent survey said they are thinking increasingly about how their companies can participate in a US transition to renewable energy and alternative fuels.

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

THE WOODLANDS, Dec. 10 -- Most senior oil and gas professionals participating in a recent survey said they are thinking increasingly about how their companies can participate in a US transition to renewable energy and alternative fuels.

Deloitte's oil and gas group released the survey results Dec. 10 during the management consultant's energy conference in the Woodlands, just north of Houston.

"More than half of the executives in our study felt that petroleum companies should work toward helping America transition to the use of more renewables and other alternative fuels," Gary Adams, vice-chairman, oil and gas, Deloitte LLP, told reporters at a news conference.

The telephone survey involved more than 50 oil and gas professionals at petroleum companies with annual revenues of $100 million or more. The survey was conducted Nov. 5-7.

Three in four executives in Deloitte's survey believe transitioning away from the nation's reliance on fossil fuels for transportation is an appropriate US goal, and 56% believe this is an appropriate goal for oil and gas companies, Adams said.

Many executives believe hydrocarbon-based energy remains the best source for long-term transportation purposes, and more than half said they expect natural gas to figure more in the future as a transportation fuel.

API responds
American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack Gerard said the survey findings "underline the oil and natural gas industry's belief in the importance of efficiency and alternatives and are consistent with what our data shows about the significant investment of the nation's oil and natural gas companies in alternatives and other emerging energy technology."

US oil and gas companies invested more than $121 billion during 2000-07 on emerging energy technologies in the North American market, he said.

"This investment represents 65% of the estimated total of $188 billion spent by all US companies and the federal government," Gerard said.

He said oil companies are on "the cutting edge of technology" in the effort to provide the energy needed and to contribute to the growth of additional jobs.

Energy costs
Adams said 53% of the oil executives interviewed "believe that the US could run out of reasonably priced oil within the next 25 years and 56% think the world will run out of reasonably priced oil in the next 50 years."

He stopped short of listing a figure for what executives considered to be reasonably priced. In the survey, 71% said oil and gas is today's most affordable energy source, but only 23% forecast that it will remain the cheapest source 25 years from now.

Of oil executives surveyed, 17% believe oil and gas will be the most sustainable source of energy for another 25 years, 54% believe renewable energy will be highly sustainable in the future, and 37% also see renewables as an affordable source of energy in 25 years.

In a separate survey of 1,000 registered voters, Deloitte said the four biggest issues voters believe President-elect Barack Obama and Congress should tackle are: the nation's economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, health care, and energy.

Adams said he believed the energy would have been the top issue if the survey had been done before the economic downturn. The voter survey was done online Nov. 5-12.

Regarding renewable energy, 38% said they would be willing to pay an additional 10% for environmentally friendly energy, and only 16% said oil and gas currently is a cheap energy source.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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