ExxonMobil is a company that is vilified by many in the environmental community, but it is also a company that is deeply respected by engineers. It is a company that is well known for focusing on its core competencies, and for not following the latest fads. Unlike some other major oil companies that have created “goodwill” by relatively token investments in alternative energy projects where the public relations and advertising spending on the project is often as high as the actual investment, ExxonMobil has remained focused on finding, extracting, transporting and marketing petroleum and petroleum based products. It is making some small investments in algae based biofuels, but event that product is one that can leverage its existing refining expertise and be marketed through the existing outlets.
I was therefore interested in reading through ExxonMobil’s report titled “Outlook for Energy: A View to 2030” to see what this famously numbers based organization had to say about its view of the future of energy.
This might be shocking news to some of you, but my first skim through the report consisted of entering the word “nuclear” into the search function of Preview (an Apple PDF reader program) and reading the context of where the word appeared. There are some excellent comments about nuclear, wind and natural gas, which are all sources that ExxonMobil believes will grow their market share in the next twenty years. Here is a sample quote from page 26:
In 2030, fossil fuels remain the predominant energy sources, accounting for nearly 80 percent of demand. Oil still leads, but natural gas moves into second place on very strong growth of 1.8 percent a year on average, particularly because of its position as a favored fuel for power generation.
Other energy types – particularly nuclear, wind, solar and biofuels – will grow sharply, albeit from a smaller base.
I want some of you to do me a favor. Download a copy of the report from ExxonMobil’s web site. Then do the same thing I did and search for the word “nuclear” in the document. As you click through, please note where the word appears. Tell me, through entering a comment here, if you see the same thing that I found on page 26 in the highlighted quote block in the upper right hand corner of the page. If you cannot comment right away, please note the time when you visited the site and downloaded the document.
I am sorry to be mysterious at this point, and I will reveal what I found this evening. However, I want to find out how long it will take ExxonMobil to find the “secret” and fix the document. Suffice it to say, the person who prepared the PDF version of the report must be a secret ally of the efforts undertaken by some of my friends and colleagues. I hope that he/she does not get in trouble for the joke that they played.