The oil industry has to defeat the anti-fossil fuel crowd and those who think fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground, an oil official for Saudi Arabia said Wednesday.
Saudi’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi told an audience of oil executives in Texas that the fossil fuel industry has to shake off the negative image environmentalists have foisted upon it and show, instead, that it’s a force for good.
While oil production can be a force for good — creating economic prosperity and feeding the world’s energy needs — the irony of Saudi Arabia’s oil minster saying this should not go unnoticed.
The revenue from oil production, for instance, funds nearly every aspect of Saudi Arabia’s public life, including the draconian treatment of women and the country’s not-so-successful terrorism rehab facility, Care Rehabilitation Center.
Saudi officials claim the center has a 100 percent success rate, yet there are examples of the center’s graduates — like Saudi nationals Said al-Shihri and Abu al-Hareth al-Oufi — boasting online about becoming leaders of al-Qaeda in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia’s oil production has also helped fund the exponential growth of Wahhabism, a fundamentalist version of state-sponsored Sunni Islam, which directed other forms of Islamic terrorism, including Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
“Ladies and gentlemen, fossil fuels are good. And they are needed. They are an abundant natural resource. Over the past 250 years they have transformed our economies and our societies. Their mass production has resulted in mass consumption,” Al-Naimi told the crowd.
“As an industry, we should be celebrating that fact, and better explaining the vital importance of these precious natural resources,” he said in a transcript at an event in Houston.
The oil minister went on to send out a rallying cry for all those in attendance.
“We should not be apologizing. And we must ignore the misguided campaign to ‘keep it in the ground’ and hope it will go away,” Al-Naimi said. “For too long the oil industry has been portrayed as the Dark Side, but it is not. It is a force, yes, but a force for good.”
The oilman’s comments come as the fossil fuel divestment campaign continues to be pushed by environmentalists such as Bill McKibben and Michael E. Mann.
McKibben’s environmentalist groups 350.org and Divest and Invest championed reports last December allegedly showing 500 institutions — many of them banks and investment funds — divested nearly $3.4 trillion in assets in 2015.
Others argue such claims are grossly inflated.
Forbes writers Christopher Helman noted last December that institutions had likely divested only about $125 billion. The $3.4 trillion number, Helman wrote, is the total number of assets, not the actual number of fossil fuel divested assets, held by those institutions.
Instead of pushing to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, the oilman said, oil producers should be looking at carbon capturing technologies to help clean up the environment.
He added that the entire oil industry must work together to curb carbon dioxide emissions, but it must do it in a responsible manner.
“We must continue to work together and we must stick together if we want to achieve our common goal of supplying energy for the betterment of the world and humankind,” Al-Naimi concluded.
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