KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N)
is testing the commercial viability of algae biofuel as an
alternative energy source to supplement oil and natural gas, a
senior executive said on Monday.
Although oil, coal and natural gas are expected to
represent about 80 percent of global energy supply mix through
2030, nuclear and renewable energy such as wind, solar,
geothermal and biofuels will play a significant role,
ExxonMobil's senior vice president Andrew Swiger said.
Global energy demand is expected to rise by almost 35
percent by 2030, from 2005 levels, he said.
"We are testing the hypothesis that algae biofuels could
become commercially viable and achieve sufficient scale to make
meaningful contribution to the future energy mix," he told the
Asia Oil and Gas Conference in the Malaysian capital.
Sunlight and carbon dioxide used to grow the algae could
also mitigate the effect of greenhouse gases, while algae has
the potential to produce large volumes of oils that can be
processed in existing refineries to make fuels compatible with
existing transportation technology and infrastructure.
"It is early days in this research, and the obstacles we
face are formidable, but the potential is great," Swiger added.
He said Exxon currently has an interest in 4,900 megawatts
of cogeneration capacity at more than 30 sites worldwide. New
facilities under construction in Singapore will boost that
capacity to more than 5,000 megawatts by next year.
Swiger also said that ExxonMobil will not delay the start
up of its new petrochemical plant in Singapore despite the glut
in ethylene supplies.
"We are into long-term investments. The petrochemical
industry goes through many cycles. We cannot predict the
cycles, Swiger told a news conference.
"We will start our plant as scheduled."
The multibillion-dollar ethylene cracker on Singapore's
Jurong Island has a capacity of 1 million tonnes per year
Mechanical completion and start-up activities of the new
facilities will be in phases beginning late 2010 through 2011,
the company had said.
The petrochemical market is starting to feel the pressure
of additional ethylene coming on line, traders said.
China, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and India will add
6.3 million tonnes of ethylene capacity, taking the region's
total to 48.33 million tonnes per year (tpy). China will
account for more than a third of the additions, reducing its
need for imports. [ID:nSGE62S035].
Shell has already brought its 800,000-tpy cracker online in
March, as did Thailand, where the Map Ta Phut Olefins Co had
started a 900,000-tpy cracker around the same time.
(Reporting by Jennifer Tan and Seng Li Peng; editing by