Days of oil are numbered, says oil chief

The world is entering "the last days of the Age of Oil," and the energy industry must respond wisely or face the consequences, the Chairman and CEO of ARCO told a meeting of industry leaders on February 9, 1999.


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Speaking at the Cambridge Energy Research Associates’ 18th annual executive conference, Mike R. Bowlin said the century will usher in a new era for the US energy industry, with cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable motor fuels playing decisive roles in the energy mix of the future.

“Global demand for clean energy – natural gas, renewables, electricity and new energy technologies – will grow faster than overall demand for energy, including oil and coal,” said Bowlin.

“Ten or fifteen years from now there still will be a large and healthy market for oil – of course. We hope that it would be a healthier market than today. But it is also true that the market share for oil will diminish, as the demand for other forms of energy grows.”

The energy equations of the 21st Century, focusing on alternative fuels, will leave oil and gas companies with a critical choice, said Bowlin: “Embrace the future and recognise the growing demand for a wide array of fuels; or ignore reality and slowly – but surely – be left behind.”

Bowlin predicted that natural gas, which he described as “a still under-appreciated energy source,” will be vital for economic growth in the developing world. He described ARCO, the US’ fifth largest oil and gas company, as “a believer in an expanding role for gas in Asia” where liquefied natural gas (LNG) may account for up to a tenth of total energy demand by 2010.

Bolin called on the energy industry to join automakers in a major new effort to develop clean fuels. “Working co-operatively with the autos to determine the most cost-effective combination of vehicle and fuel technologies is the key to achieving our mutual goals,” Bowlin said.

In 1989, ARCO introduced the world’s first cleaner-burning gasoline, EC-1, at its Los Angeles-area stations. Ultimately, reformulated gasoline was mandated for all of California.

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