As a result, Wall Street, Silicon Valley and governments were pouring money into new companies developing alternative forms of energy that promised to supply the world’s needs without polluting.
Even oil and gas companies got in the game. BP had adopted the slogan “beyond petroleum” in 2000 and threw millions into its solar division. Shell partnered with another company to fire up a plant to convert agricultural waste into ethanol.
So strong was the lure of alternative energy that veterans of the oil patch began fleeing for startups.
In 23 years at Shell, David Aldous helped develop projections that showed a booming world population and rising energy demand. He also saw how hard it was for big oil companies to find enough oil every year to replace all they sold. He left Shell to join Range Fuels, a company that promised to turn wood chips into ethanol, in 2008.
“I felt we needed faster innovation,” he says.
THE RACE FOR NEW TECHNOLOGY
But while the national focus was on alternatives, the oil and gas industry was innovating too. New technology allowed drillers to do two crucial things: find more places where oil and gas is hidden and bring it to the surface economically.
Large oil companies such as Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP turned up huge discoveries offshore in ultra-deep water with the help of better sensors and faster computers that allowed them to see once-hidden oil deposits.
Onshore, small drillers learned how to pull oil and gas out of previously inaccessible underground rock formations.
For most of the oil age, drillers have looked for large underground pools of oil and gas that were easy to tap.<< previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next >>