Big Oil and Renewable Power Investments …

Reuters has taken a look at Big Oil’s investments in renewable power and, well, haven’t found much that is Big about them … especially not Exxon-Mobil.

Let’s take a quick look at Big Oil and renewables:

Exxon Mobil: The largest private oil company sold its solar power business over during the Reagan Presidency … and has no (NO) notable renewable power investments. 

“Exxon does not believe renewables are commercially viable on a significant scale without government incentives and opposes such incentives. “

Somewhat interesting … people are making real money off, for example, wind mills and Exxon Mobil is rejecting profit out of its opposition to incentives which, by the way, are a fraction of what goes to the oil and other fossil fuel industries …

Exxon executives privately accuse rivals like BP and Shell of exaggerating their commitment to renewable energy.

Maybe so … isn’t that marketing departments often do when trying to gain public sympathy?

Royal Dutch Shell Plc

Shell spokesmen evidently claim $1 billion of investment in renewables — that is excluding biodiesel — and hydrogen over the past five years.  They also have “the largest wind power business in the sector” with plans for expansion. 

They sold their solar business last year but plan to be manufactoring new solar panels next year. 

As for hydrogen, Shell has invested over $150 million over the past eight years.

Shell has investments in bio-diesel, geothermal research, etc…

Total of about $1.25 billion or about 5% of 2006 capital investment.

BP Plc So, just how far Beyond Petroleum is BP?  First, they’ve got their large solar invesment, including the largest plant in Frederick, Maryland.  About $500 million investment from 1999 through 2005.

They have $300 million invested in wind power in the past two years. 

And, they’re investing in bio-fuels.

About $900 million against a 2006 capital expenditure of $16.9 billion.  Better than Exxon Mobil, but doesn’t seem all that far Beyond Petroleum to me.

Total SA, which is the fourth largest of the private oil firms, has relatively modest renewable investments:  a small wind farm near one of its refineries, and investements in some developing wind projects. They are partners with the French electric utility EDF in solar power manufacturing.  And, they are doing some biofuel research.  Perhaps $100 million against a 2006 CapEx of about $15 billion.

Chevron claims $2 billion in renewable power, alternative energy, and energy investment investments between 2002 and 2006.  And, their geothermal power projects make them able to calim being “the largest producer of renewable power among the big oil companies”.   Reuters concludes that Chevron invested about $200 mllion between 1999 and 2006 out of a 2006 capital investment of $16.6 billion.

All told, not incredibly aggressive numbers from some very (VERY) cash rich companies.

Not sure that we can wait for these companies to make the investments to lead the world Beyond Petroleum.


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