The energy industry has begun the “last days of the age of oil,”with a cast of cleaner fuels waiting to take center stage,according to ARCO CEO Mike R. Bowlin.

Oil is not dead, though. “Because 10 or 15 years from now therestill will be a large and healthy market for oil – of course. Butit is also true that the market share for oil will diminish as thedemand for other forms of energy grows.”

In a Cambridge Energy Research Associates Executive Conferenceaddress that recalled Britain’s coal-created “killer fog” of 1952,Bowlin noted demand for energy over the next 20 years is expectedto increase by 50% or more. “Global demand for clean energy -natural gas, renewables, electricity and new energy technologies -will grow faster than overall demand for energy, including oil andcoal.”

Growing energy demand coupled with growing concern for theenvironment is, of course, good for natural gas. “In the near-term,companies like ARCO can look to natural gas, a stillunder-appreciated fuel source. Natural gas can alleviate theincreasingly serious energy shortages facing East Asia and at thesame time help alleviate local air quality problems.” Also poisedfor growth is liquefied natural gas (LNG). But two things have tohappen for LNG to secure an established place in the energy market.”It must be cost competitive with other energy forms – namely coaland oil; and there must be incremental demand for electricity.

“If the delivered cost is low enough, natural gas, utilized in acombined-cycle gas turbine is, in nearly all situations, the leastexpensive – and cleanest – way to generate electricity.” Bowlintouted ARCO’s 80% ownership of major gas player Vastar Resources asevidence of the company’s commitment to gas developmentdomestically and abroad.

Joe Fisher, Houston

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