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Shocked, Shocked: Biofuels Are Bad, Saudis Say

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Shocked, Shocked: Biofuels Are Bad, Saudis Say

Posted by Keith Johnson
April 10, 2008, 3:13 pm

Here’s a dog-bites-man moment: The Saudi Arabian oil minister says biofuels are a bad idea. Speaking at an oil-industry conference in Paris, Ali al-Naimi joined the steadily growing anti-biofuel chorus. Reuters reports:

“Let’s be realistic, ethanol and biofuels will not contribute to the protection of the global environment by reducing (carbon dioxide) emissions, they will not increase energy security, nor will they reduce dependency on fossil fuels to any appreciable degree,” Ali al-Naimi told an oil conference. “Biofuels are not the solution,” he added.

Of course, lots of people in the oil patch have long been hostile to ethanol and other forms of biofuel that could theoretically compete with oil as a transport fuel. Red Caveney, the president of the American Petroleum Institute, takes a swipe at U.S. ethanol policy nearly every chance he gets. Even big oil companies like Shell working on biofuel projects of their own aren’t investing any less in their bread-and-butter business.

But the political chorus is growing louder, too, especially as grain and food prices soar around the world. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown blamed biofuels for food shortages in a letter to fellow G-8 members today. Countries like the U.K. and Germany are reconsidering EU plans to boost the use of biofuels in coming years.

So what’s Mr. al-Naimi in favor of? Well, what else does Saudi Arabia have in spades?

“That’s why we have to look beyond biofuels… and concentrate instead on truly renewable sources of energy,” he said, adding that solar power was perhaps the best clean energy source available in all parts of the world. “There is a great chance to expand its usage to all parts of the world, especially in developing countries and to all economic sectors and activities including power generation, manufacturing and so on,” Naimi said.

http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2008/04/10/shocked-shocked-biofuels-are-bad-saudis-say/?mod=WSJBlog

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