CLIMATE:

Big Oil is biggest investor in GHG-curbing technologies -- report

The U.S. public and private sectors invested $132.9 billion in greenhouse gas-mitigating technologies between 2000 and 2008 -- including projects that capture methane from landfills and carbon dioxide from oil refineries -- according to a new report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute.

The federal government invested $19.2 billion over the eight-year period, according to the report, which was produced by the University of Texas at Austin's Center for Energy Economics and T2 & Associates LLC, a Texas-based land developer and general contractor.

The U.S.-based oil and gas industry invested about $58.4 billion over the same period. Other sectors, including electric utilities and biofuels startups, accounted for the remaining $55.3 billion invested.

The report analyzed more than 420 companies' annual reports, federal budgets and other publicly available documents. The $132.9 billion investment total accounts for money invested in wind turbines, biofuel refineries, photovoltaic panels, CO2 capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure and other low- or no-carbon technologies.

The $58.4 billion invested by oil and gas companies over the eight-year period constituted about 44 percent of the overall U.S. investment, the report notes. Such companies invested $30.6 billion in end-use technologies -- mostly for efficiency improvements through combined heat and power cogeneration, CCS and battery technologies for motor vehicles.

Oil and gas companies invested another $21.1 billion in developing less carbon-intensive fuels, such as liquefied natural gas. The remaining $6.7 billion invested by the sector was in "non-hydrocarbon" technologies, such as wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and biofuels.

Kyle Isakower, API's director of policy analysis, called the oil and gas companies' $58.4 billion investment a "pretty impressive" number when put in context.

"Our members' primary responsibility is to be able to provide the fuels our country needs," Isakower explained.

The report did not show what percentage of U.S. oil and gas companies' total revenue during the eight-year period the $58.4 billion investment constitutes. On average, companies in the sector try to invest 5 to 10 percent of their revenue in research and development, noted Michelle Foss, a co-author of the study and head of UT's Center for Energy Economics.

The world's five largest oil companies -- BP PLC, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell PLC -- recorded a combined profit of about $100 billion in 2008. The companies invested about 4 percent of that total in alternative-energy ventures, according to analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress.

The global ethanol and biodiesel market will reach nearly $250 billion in sales by 2020, up from about $76 billion in 2010, according to a separate report published today by Pike Research, a Boulder, Colo.-based "cleantech" market analytics firm. Growth factors that the report cites are technological advances, economies of scale, and federal subsidies and fuel mandates.

Click here to read the API report.

Want to read more stories like this?

E&E is the leading source for comprehensive, daily coverage of environmental and energy politics and policy.

Click here to start a free trial to E&E -- the best way to track policy and markets.