Will Big Oil technology become obsolete?
Even though Big Oil is posting good gains for now, the question increasingly on the minds of some investors is, how long will it last? Well, even though interest in renewable energy investing is becoming more apparent, Big Oil, especially companies like Exxon (XOM) and Chevron (CVX), is still the main draw when it comes to energy investing. Without a clear plan for getting away from oil dependence, oil companies are likely to continue gaining.
In the short term, especially over the summer, concerns about oil supply, the U.S. driving season and instability in oil producing countries is likely to keep oil prices - and oil company profits - moving up. But what about the long-term?
At the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is happening all this week in Aspen, Colorado, the Aspen Daily News reports an interesting observation by former CIA director R. James Woolsey:
Oil is a valuable commodity now but 200 years ago, before the invention of refrigeration, so was salt, said R. James Woolsey, a former director of the CIA and current vice president of the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
"People fought wars over salt mines. It was very valuable back in its day," he said. "Then toward the end of the 19th century, electricity and refrigeration destroyed salt as a means of preserving meat. ...
"We need to decide it is an important national objective to break our oil dependence," he said.
Technological advances in clean energy research are moving at breakneck speed, said Woolsey, comparing it to the atmosphere that surrounded the development and implementation of Internet search engines 10 to 15 years ago.
So, is Big Oil headed the way of salt? Will our society truly develop the technology necessary to render oil dependence obsolete? I'm not sure if oil will become as technologically insignificant as salt, but it could diminish in importance as more emphasis is placed on renewable energy and more people decide that renewable energy investing is likely to pay more.
Disclosure: I do not own stock in the companies listed above. The only Big Oil company I am investing in is BP (BP).