Oil giant Exxon sees the future – and it is green algae
Wednesday 15 July 2009
The oil giant that environmentalists love to hate, ExxonMobil, which for years denied the existence of man-made climate change, is sensationally "going green" in a very literal sense – investing $600m (£369m) in algae.
The company says it believes it can make a new kind of fuel for cars and aircraft, one that can be produced in its existing refineries and will not require modification of vehicles' engines.
At the heart of the project is Craig Venter, the scientist best known for his private-sector effort to sequence the human genome, and his latest company, Synthetic Genomics.
Exxon is putting $300m into its own research and at least as much again into Synthetic Genomic's efforts to build a lab and, ultimately, large-scale production facilities. Both sides were enthusiastic but cautious announcing the partnership yesterday. "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 budgets of $25bn to $30bn, but it will be the world's largest biofuels development project of its kind, Mr Venter said.
Environmentalists are keen on algae as a fuel source because, unlike many ethanol products, it is not taking up land, water and crops that might otherwise be given over to the production of food.
ExxonMobil has come under pressure from shareholders – including descendants of its founder, John D Rockefeller – to diversify from fossil fuels, though management insists oil and gas will continue to be the dominant sources of fuel for decades to come.
BP already has a partnership with Synthetic Genomics. Royal Dutch Shell, which is second to ExxonMobil in global refining capacity, announced plans in December for an algae project in Hawaii.
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser
Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
£20000 - £23250 Per Annum pro rata: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pro rata ...
£40 - 48k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join...