Exxon Plan to develop biofuel from algae

Exxon Mobil Corp will invest $600 million over the next five to six years on trying to developing biofuel from algae, even though the oil major has said renewables will be only a small part of global energy supply.

Exxon, placing its largest financial bet on renewable fuels, is forming a research and development alliance with Synthetic Genomics Inc, a privately held company that focuses on gene-based research, the company said on Tuesday.

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The project, which would cost billions to fully develop, is in its initial stages, so commercially viable biofuel made from algae would be many years away, Exxon told reporters on a conference call.

"We need to be realistic," said Emil Jacobs, vice president of research at Exxon. "This is not going to be easy, and there are no guarantees of success."

Spending on the algae fuels project will require only a fraction of Exxon's annual capital budget of $25 billion to $30 billion, but it will be the world's largest biofuels development project of its kind, said Craig Venter, genome pioneer and founder of Synthetic Genomics.

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