For nearly a year and two hundred plus posts we’ve looked at the leading edges of the energy and fuels context coming at us. The leading one for half a century is petroleum and its not going away. With fusion, man made alternatives, solar and geothermal in an even longer list, the one we need is still and for years to come will be petroleum. The energy density is unsurpassed for transport in particular. There is little to show in current events that moving people and goods is going to dramatically slow or stop.
With one hundred and fifty years of buildup the petroleum business has only a few free leaders left. Most of the world’s petroleum supply is controlled by governments, a fact lost on the media and press, which in turn misleads billions of people. Oil prices, marginal barrels, and energy invested vs. energy returned are all symptoms of a partially controlled and partially market driven system that has become a way to barely keep enough product available.
So whom will the consumer trust? Is it a Saudi sheik, a Russian oligarch, a U.S. bureaucrat or a company working in a free economy answering to millions of stockholders, employees and customers? All these know that press and media types will watch and report something or other, nearly certain to be badly biased, but the news in some fashion will get out. That might be enough to keep the clutching and grasping government ideas at bay for a bit longer. Oddly, and contrary to sentiment, your interest is the same as the free independent oil company. That doesn’t mean your future is bound to them though.
For now and the immediate future the smartest folks are watching what is known as “Big Oil”. Your humble writer knows he needs them and obviously tends to root for those who provide and support the developed world’s lifestyle. Rah. That said:
ExxonMobil is the largest Big Oil firm. It also enjoys a reputation of being engineering oriented. Other firms, such as Chevron have a more personal sense and community base. These are forms of corporate culture, if you will. By any measure the competitiveness is very much there – all the Big Oil companies mean to get you to be their customer.
So when a firm like ExxonMobil offers a blog by a vice president it’s worth some notice and the occasional stopping by. All the while knowing these guys mean to sell petroleum products and keep doing that until another business model overtakes the industry. They will not fail to use all lawful means to do just that – they owe it to the stockholders, employees and customers after all.
The blog is nearly two years old now, and is honestly, light on content. But there are some gems. It’s also a good start, now if we get them to post some information on the news and press releases from the R&D departments . . . Maybe even some useful information on where such an important part of the economy is looking into the future. Now that would be a blog!
Still, vice president Mr. Ken Cohen is going to be fully careful, run what’s written by the lawyers, and not break any rules. But here’s a bit of business sense from out in the wild, never ask a lawyer’s approval, to pass on something or give over the gate keys. Make ‘em earn their pay like everybody else – “approval not required, see that it gets done legally”.
So how after two years did ExxonMobil get a bit of attention? A headline that sets up an energy density comparison between various energy sources, “How many gallons of gasoline would it take to charge an iPhone?” Answer, a gallon would charge an iPhone daily for nearly twenty years. Not bad, but the gem comes a bit farther in with, “A typical car’s gasoline tank contains less than 100 pounds of gasoline but can power a 3,000 pound car for 400 miles at 60 miles per hour.” An astute observation.
When you look at the gem statement in the context, another attempt to maim ethanol as a fuel, the lawyers were likely consulted, but there is little sign any competent engineers were. Is it any wonder people are so suspicious of Big Oil?
For now, though the illustration approximates reality, albeit years old, and its so stated if you read closely. But one day an ethanol fuel cell may use 100 pounds of ethanol and power a lighter vehicle five times further at equivalent speeds.
Come on ExxonMobil and Mr. Cohen. The firm projects and invests on ten-year plans or longer, there is a corporate culture of engineering and scientific status that leads the world. It was a good blog post until the swing at ethanol popped up. We expect much more and far better of you and soon.