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February 25, 2011

US Reliance on Oil Unlikely to End Soon



Even though oil may reach even higher prices – as unrest continues to break out in the oil-rich regions of the Middle East – the mood is doubtful that the United States will reduce its dependence on oil anytime soon.

MarketWatch reports that attendees at the Jefferies 11th Global Clean Technology Conference held in New York this week said that America will be slow to change from oil.

However, one conference attendee, John Hall, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, predicts that higher oil prices leads to more attention being paid to clean technology companies and their products, MarketWatch reports.

In addition, Brian Rotchford, a regulatory consultant, told MarketWatch that the United States sees the oil supply threatened in the Middle East every few years.

“As long as a major sector of the economy still relies on fossil fuels, it’ll compete with clean technology. The clean energy market will get to a level playing field but they’ll do it on their own,” he told MarketWatch.

Shihab Kuran, CEO of Petra Solar, added that difficulty in getting construction permits approved to build solar power arrays is blocking further use of solar energy, according to MarketWatch. As an option, his company has placed small solar power systems on existing electricity poles.

Meanwhile, attention is being paid to Saudi Arabia, where the oil-rich nation is at risk for the kind of protests that took place in Tunisia and Egypt. Violence continues in Libya, too, which a member of OPEC.

Of all the anti-government protests sweeping the Arab world, Libya's appears to be the bloodiest, according to reports from TMCnet.

The unrest has led to higher oil prices.

"I think oil prices are going to trade higher, even with Saudi assurances. I think OPEC wants to see higher oil prices," Tom Kaan of Louis Capital Markets in Hong Kong, told The Associated Press in a story carried by TMCnet. "I am not optimistic on airlines or the transport sector."

"Oil is pretty much unpredictable, but in the short term, I do not see oil trading back at $85 a barrel. I think the floodgates are open for oil prices" and they could go as high as $120, Kaan added.

The AP reported that stock markets across the world were higher Friday. Oil prices have eased a bit from earlier in the week.

Oil prices were holding above $98 a barrel in Asia — down from $103 on the day before, The AP reported.

Watching the events unfold were those attending the Jefferies Global Clean Technology Conference, which had over 100 public and private companies take part. They were from the solar, wind, smart grid, energy storage, biofuels, biomaterials, energy efficiency, energy infrastructure, fuel cells, geothermal, advanced lighting (LEDs), transportation and water sectors, according to a press release from Jefferies.

Jefferies is an investment bank providing services to clean technology and renewable energy companies.


Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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