Exxon Mobil will spend as much as $30 billion on capital and exploration projects annually between 2008 and 2012, up 43% from its 2007 budget, according to the Toronto Star.
That $210 billion investment dwarfs the spending of the U.S. government on renewable and clean energy projects, and would outspend by far even the ambitious and revolutionary energy policies proposed by Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Clinton has proposed a $50 billion strategic energy fund that would come from royalties paid for drilling on public lands, eliminating oil company subsidies and requiring energy companies to either invest in renewable energy research and development, or pay into the national fund.
Obama has proposed spending $150 billion over 10 years on renewable and alternative energy research and development.
Republican John McCain has not laid out a detailed energy plan, but he promised to do so if nominated. Now that he's the official nominee, voters can look for him to fulfill that pledge.
In any case, the largest and most profitable company in the world is likely to spend more searching for new oil reserves, which will mean it will want to sell that oil, and will likely resist efforts to transform the U.S. economy into a low-carbon system.
The statistic may also say something about the peak oil debate. While there are still reserves of oil to be tapped, those reserves are likely to come to market at ever higher costs. Oil locked in shale, sand or buried deep under the ocean costs more to access, transport and, often, refine, than the traditional reserves that have fed the industrial machine until now. As those reserves are depleted, the world will rely more and more heavily on the expensive deposits.
Unless, that is, we kick the oil habit by developing alternatives.
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