09/13/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Middle East Oil Barons Turn America's Oil Woes Into Clean Technology

One would think that members countries from the OEPC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) in the Persian Gulf who are sitting on a quarter of the world's oil reserves would like to stall the development of clean technologies and thereby the creation of alternatives to oil, right? Nope. Not only are the Middle East oil barons reaping profits from $130 barrel of oil, they are using these profits wisely to develop clean technology.

Investors from the oil rich Gulf countries, writes blogger Daniel Pedersen, are diversifying their energy sources well beyond fossil fuels,"both for business diversification and as a result of real need," he says, continuing, "The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are facing increasing shortages in domestic energy supply, and their economies depend on selling petroleum to other countries rather then burning it for their own needs. Many of these countries face gas shortages, and they recognize that petroleum supplies are finite and need to be managed wisely and husbanded for the future."

Now countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Dubai and Kuwait have programs to promote wind power farms, solar energy, solar powered desalination, more efficient use of oil through fuel cells, carbon sequestration, oil gasification, and green building, Pedersen points out, citing the carbon neutral city Masdar in Abu Dhabi, being developed in cooperation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a second newspaper story from Dubai, Swati Taneja, a director from the Private Equity Forum which recently concluded in Dubai, said that people in Dubai have amassed new fortunes from the rising price of oil and gas around the world.

They now see massive opportunities in green investing. "Green investing is emerging as the new theme for the region," said Taneja. "It is not hard to discover why. The recent World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch estimated that about 20 per cent of wealthy investors in the Middle East had already allocated part of their portfolios to green technologies and alternative energy -- the highest proportion of any region in the world."

What can Western countries, such as the United States do to stay competitive? Pedersen, my newest blogging friend, recommends: "Western economies can help this process along by making clean technologies more attractive for investment and innovation, first by reducing the subsidies for the oil companies, next by taxing "dirty" fossil fuels.

Finally they can also give carefully selected incentives to alternative technologies until they reach maturity in large scale applications and low cost."

::Green Prophet

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