Fifty percent of the corporate R&D budget is spent on “renewables,” “emerging” energy sources, and “sustainable” technologies. Emerging energy sources? Why are solar and wind still called emerging, you wonder? They’ve been around for decades and still don’t deliver. Your successes stop at the end of the hall. Your floor can sustain itself; it’s the sustainables division downstairs that can’t. Why are they such a large part of the budget? It started out with a small experiment, conducted voluntarily by the CEO and approved by the board of directors. Then it grew because, even though the experiment was not succeeding, no one on the board was complaining. Other oil and gas companies followed. Then, it became law: the R&D equalization bill.
You look at the reports on your desk one more time. The light flickers a little before going out, and the entire building goes dark, as the office was powered by a wind farm, and the wind has calmed down. Due to the Minimum Renewables Act of 2016, oil and gas companies are now required to use a minimum of 50% of their office electricity from renewable sources. Your work may soon be snuffed out by another cold hand: government regulations threaten to shut down your wells and prevent future wells from operating, but that is another story.
Let’s try to keep the above just a story. While there are many possible avenues for innovation, the oil and gas industry should move forward with a single-minded focus on its own productive capacity. It should develop innovations that secure the future of the industry by improving exploration and production of fossil fuels, saving money, and reducing waste and pollution.