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2009 August 26

ExxonMobil announces leap into algae-based biofuels research

David Landes
Oil company ExxonMobil has announced plans to invest $600 million in efforts to develop liquid transport fuel from algae.

The algae-based biofuel development project involves a partnership with the Synthetic Genomics biotechnology company, the New York Times reports.

“We literally looked at every option we could think of, with several key parameters in mind,” Emil Jacobs, an ExxonMobil vice president for research and development, told the newspaper.

“Scale was the first. For transportation fuels, if you can’t see whether you can scale a technology up, then you have to question whether you need to be involved at all.”

While environmental advocates praised the move, they remained cautious about the potential outcome of the effort proposed by ExxonMobil, currently the world’s biggest and wealthiest publicly traded oil company.

“We’ve always said that major oil companies have to be involved. But the question is whether companies are simply paying lip service to something or whether they are putting their weight and power behind it,” Kert Davies, the research director at Greenpeace, told the New York Times.

According to ExxonMobil, the company plans in initial investment of $300 million for internal research studies, with Synthetic Genomics set to receive an additional $300 million “if research and development milestones are successfully met”.

Read the full article here.