From: Erwin Seba, Reuters
Published February 16, 2007 12:00 AM

Big Oil Warns Biofuels Will Not Meet U.S. Energy Needs

HOUSTON -- Top executives in the U.S. oil and electricity industries warned U.S. lawmakers this week against relying solely on biofuels for energy security, calling instead for more domestic drilling, streamlined regulation, and access to foreign reserves.

The executives, meeting at a high-profile energy conference in Houston, voiced their concerns in the wake of a White House proposal to slash U.S. imports of foreign oil by quintupling the use of biofuels within 10 years.

"Let's start with the recognition that, given projections of a 50 percent increase in global energy use by 2030, we will need all the energy we can develop, in every potential form," said Chevron Chairman and Chief Executive Dave O'Reilly on Tuesday night.

In addresses to investors, academics, and analysts attending the annual Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference, executives from leading companies warned that there is no instant gratification for energy security.

They said securing ample energy supplies for the United States, the world's biggest energy consumer, required diverse sources of crude and natural gas as well as incentives for construction of coal and nuclear power plants.

Calls for energy independence or weaning the United States from foreign crude were rejected.

"The path to energy security .... lies in open international trade, competitive markets, diversity of supply and the strengthening of partnerships between producing and consuming nations," Exxon Mobil Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said in a Tuesday speech.

Oil company executives said the United States should open up more offshore areas to drilling -- something that has been stalled by widespread environmental concern.

Companies that rely heavily on dependable energy said they were also encouraging a policy that would lead to flexible and diverse supplies.

"What we do today will impact us in 2025," said Theo Waltie, senior energy adviser to Dow Chemical Co. in a Wednesday presentation. "In fact, 2025 is here."

The oil industry has been beset by heavy criticism in recent years for raking in record profits while consumers pay high prices for gasoline, heating fuels and electricity.

The head of the American Petroleum Institute, an association of U.S. energy companies, said industry CEOs were making a concerted effort to improve the public's understanding of the oil business.

"The CEOs are out now," API president Red Cavaney said. "We came to the realization the public just doesn't know about our business. Too often the public reaction is prices are too high, profits are too high, and people want to take out that rage without thinking through the consequences."

Source: Reuters

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