In the wake of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it’s clear the U.S. needs to end its crude-oil addiction as much to protect its economy as the environment.
To move the future forward, America needs one company in particular to come through on behalf of all Americans. In a cruel twist of fate, that company is ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), which is working on arguably the most important energy-research project in the world today. Namely, a project to replace crude with genetically-modified algae that can be cost-effectively refined using existing refinery equipment.
A year ago when Exxon announced its algae project with biotech pioneer J. Craig Venter, the company said that it would take at least 5-10 years to produce commercial quantities of algae-based fuels. “My suspicion, and it’s just a suspicion, is that they still see it as five to 10 years away,” says Addison Wiggin, editorial director of The Daily Reckoning, who has been looking into the Exxon-Venter project for a forthcoming documentary on entrepreneurs in the post-crisis financial world.
Too long. As video of the black death pouring out of that ruptured pipeline gushes onto every American TV and computer screen, it's time for President Obama to declare a new Manhattan Project, a new man-to-moon space race. The goal must be to take America off its crude addiction in less than five years with a literally home-grown industry that will create tens of thousands of agricultural and other jobs without jeopardizing the existing oil industry’s trillion-dollar infrastructure.
Exxon shares would surge the moment this plan became publicly known; however, the President can’t allow the investor payoff to be too bountiful. There will have to be safeguards against Exxon controlling the applicable patents in order to prevent the company from controlling America’s energy future.
Algae oil is no panacea, the President will further need to say. Accelerated development of plug-in electric and all-electric vehicles is needed in order for the U.S. to have, by 2020 or sooner, a nationally-secure, environmentally-sound transportation infrastructure.
In a second twist of fate, not only would Exxon shares likely surge in price, so too might the shares of utilities that generate a lot of electricity from coal. Companies such as Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), Southern (NYSE:SO) and FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) might lose their pariah image if part of the President’s strategy were to capture coal plants’ carbon dioxide and use it to accelerate algae growth.
For risk-inclined investors who believe that all this may be on the way, a company that might be worth a closer look right now is tiny OriginOil. (OOIL.OB). The company has started signing up customers as it begins commercializing a technology for producing biofuel from algae using CO2 emissions captured from smokestacks.
Disclosure: No positions