Cold Fusion and the Future
Part 2 - A Look at Economics and Society
(Originally Published March-June,
1997 In Infinite Energy Magazine Issue #13-#14)
by Jed Rothwell
. . . about two or three years back, I did
a first assessment of what the first successful device would be
worth and it came out at about 300 trillion dollars.
Martin Fleischmann, Interview, Infinite Energy
, Issue #11, p. 10. (view the article here.)
For the expanding dynamic economy of America,
the sky is indeed the limit. Now more than ever we must have confidence
in America's capacity to grow. Guided by electronics, powered
by atomic energy, geared to the smooth, effortless workings of
automation, the magic carpet of our free economy heads for distant
and undreamed horizons. Just going along for the ride will be
the biggest thrill on earth!
"Calling All Jobs," National Association of
Manufacturers, New York, October 1957, p. 21.
Considerable injury has been done to the proprietors
of the improved frames. These machines were to them an advantage,
inasmuch as they superseded the necessity of employing a number
of workmen, who were left in consequence to starve. By the adoption
of one species of frame in particular, one man performed the work
of many, and the superfluous labourers were thrown out of employment.
. . . The rejected workmen, in the blindness of their ignorance,
instead of rejoicing at these improvements in arts so beneficial
to mankind, conceived themselves to be sacrificed to improvements
in mechanism. In the foolishness of their hearts they imagined that
the maintenance and well-doing of the industrious poor were objects
of greater consequence than the enrichment of a few individuals
by an improvement, in the implements of trade, which threw the workmen
out of employment, and rendered the labourer unworthy of his hire.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, describes the Luddites
during the Debate on the Framework Bill in the House of Lords, February
In Part 1, I described some of the gee-whiz technology
we can look forward to with cold fusion. In this issue, I would
like to consider more nebulous questions. How will this affect society
and the economy? Will it cause an economic boom, or massive unemployment?
I think it could go either way. The outcome will depend on policies
shaped by business leaders, politicians, and voters. Cold fusion
may cause more unemployment than any previous labor-saving invention.
It will eliminate jobs in energy, the biggest industry in the world.
I fear that cold fusion will cause social disruption, because people
are better at inventing new machines than they are at devising new
A Gold Mine
Energy is the biggest industry on earth. It is
the most valuable commodity: everyone needs it, every industry,
vehicle, and building consumes it. People are mesmerized by the
gigantic profit potential of cold fusion. Martin Fleischmann may
have set a new record here when he estimated the value of a successful
cold fusion device at "about 300 trillion dollars" over an unspecified
period. I presume this is based on the cost of the fossil fuel we
will consume if we do not adapt cold fusion. I disagree with his
estimate. In spite of today's gigantic energy industries, in the
long run I do not think cold fusion will earn much money, certainly
not trillions of dollars. The individual scientists, engineers and
venture capitalists who perfect the technology may become wealthy,
but corporations devoted to cold fusion will never play a large
role in the economy the way oil and coal companies do today. Instead,
I predict the energy sector will wither away. The total market value
of energy per annum worldwide in the next century will be zero.
Visionaries like Haldane, Von Neumann and Clarke are often ridiculed
for predicting that nuclear power would become "too cheap to meter,"
but in the long run they will be vindicated.2
In forty years when the changeover is complete and
the Hoover dam is shut down, nobody will buy or sell energy. People
will generate as much as they need, when and where they need it.
You cannot charge a customer for something he makes himself with
his own machine. There is no practical way to meter use or collect
revenue. It would be like trying to charge a person every time he
watches a video tape of his family vacation. You can only collect
money for cold fusion once, when you sell the machine. At first,
manufacturers will sell cold fusion powered machines at a premium,
but competition will soon push down the price. Eventually, cold
fusion automobiles, refrigerators, furnaces and other equipment
will cost no more than today's fossil fuel models. Cold fusion will
be a gold mine, but only for consumers, not manufacturers. Nobody
will earn $300 trillion selling cold fusion energy. The $300 trillion
which would otherwise have been spent on fuel will be spent on a
broad range of things instead, from consumer goods, to gambling,
education, and the military. Perhaps it will not be spent on anything,
and the world economy will shrink by $300 trillion.
First a Toy, Then a Luxury, Then a Necessity
Successful technology goes through four stages.
When first introduced, it is a high-tech toy for hobbyists and people
who enjoy playing with frivolous, novel, unpredictable, unstable,
and generally useless gadgets, like the automobile circa 1900 or
the personal computer in 1977. The first personal computers came
without disks or even video monitors in some cases. The first automobiles
were toys for wealthy young men with a talent for roadside repair.
In stage two the machine becomes a luxury item. It is still inordinately
expensive, but more reliable. It no longer takes an expert to operate.
It has many advantages over the older technology. By 1905, automobiles
could be operated by untrained people. They were faster than horses,
reasonably comfortable to ride in, and weather-proof. In the third
stage the machine is perfected, mass produced, and made safe and
idiot-proof. It becomes a necessity to most people. The automobile
entered this stage on August 12, 1908 when Ford introduced the Model
T for $850.3 Personal computers gradually entered it
in the late 1980s. Finally, in stage four, the cost of the machine
falls dramatically and it becomes so reliable that it replaces the
older technology. The U.S. horse population peaked in 1929 and declined
rapidly after that.4 Sometime around 1992, computers
spread to every business. Manual bookkeeping with handwritten ledgers
became a lost art. As a machine passes these stages, social attitudes
toward it change in predicable ways. In the beginning people attack
it as elitist or belittle it as impractical. ("Get a horse!") Later,
they cannot imagine how they lived without it.5
It takes people a long time to realize that a revolution
is underway, even when they read about it in the newspapers. Automobiles
commanded a lot of attention at the turn of the century. They were
a symbol of the future. The Houston Post showed the baby
new year "1900" riding in on one. But they did not touch the lives
of ordinary people. Many people had never seen one. An automobile
was the star attraction at a fair in Emporia, Kansas in 1899. By
1900 there were approximately 8,000 in the United States, including
a hundred taxies in New York City.6 The voluminous 1908
issue of the Sears, Roebuck Catalog has 59 pages devoted to buggies,
wagons, harness and veterinary supplies for horses, but it lists
only a few small items for automobiles, including men's driving
gloves, a recommended grade of oil, and a do-it-yourself handbook
advertised as "A Complete Encyclopedia of the Construction, Operation
and Management of Gas Engines, Gasoline Engines, Automobiles, Farm
Engines and Traction Engines, Together with Complete Questions and
Answers."7 Buggy makers did not worry about the competition.
When the Apple, Northstar and Radio Shack microcomputers went on
sale in the late 1970s, they were more obscure than the early automobiles.
Few people realized how important they would soon become.
Not only does technology evolve into a necessity,
it sometimes falls in price until it becomes virtually free. People
accuse me of utopianism when I say that the cost of energy will
fall to zero, but it has been falling steadily ever since Newcomen
invented the steam engine in 1711. It would asymptotically approach
zero even without the development of cold fusion. Even the cost
of non-renewable energy has been falling, in defiance of many predictions
since the beginning of the oil age. In real dollars the price of
gasoline in the U.S. has declined from $1.60 per gallon in 1947
to about $1.10 today, with one short price spurt that ended abruptly
in the early 1980s with the collapse of OPEC.8 Many other
goods that were expensive luxuries not long ago now cost little,
including fresh vegetables in winter, pearls, automobile tires,
computer memory, and ice. In northern states, people used to cut
ice from frozen ponds in winter. They stored it under sawdust to
be used in summer or transported south by ships, where it was a
valuable commodity. In cities, icemen delivered it in blocks to
housewives, who preserved food in iceboxes. Mechanical refrigeration
was invented in 1834 and became practical in 1881. Ice was manufactured
in large, central factories in cities, and delivered to houses with
horse drawn wagons. General Electric introduced the first refrigerators
for home use in 1920. They were luxury items, costing $600. (Twice
as much as a Model T Ford, which was down to $290 by this time.)
Ten thousand refrigerators were sold in 1920, 75,000 in 1925. Freon
replaced ammonia in 1931, making refrigerators safer and cheaper.
By 1937 sales reached $3 million, and the iceman was out of business.9
The last holdout customers were forced to buy refrigerators. When
the last gas station in your neighborhood closes down, holdouts
will be forced to buy a cold fusion car. When the power company
goes bankrupt, they will have to buy home generators.
In the summer of 1842 an enterprising merchant could
send a sailing ship full of New England pond ice to Savannah, Georgia
or Florida and sell it at a handsome profit. A schooner carrying
ice bound for Florida was wrecked. Dr. John Gorrie needed that ice
desperately, to stave off the heat in the sickroom where his wife
was convalescing. He invented an ammonia ice-making machine, one
of the first primitive refrigerators in the U.S. If you had told
an ice merchant that in a hundred years people in Florida will make
as much ice as they want with their own miniature Gorrie machines,
the merchant would not have said, "someone will earn a hundred million
selling all that ice!" He would understand that when that happens,
the bottom will drop out of the market and ice will be worth nothing.
Projecting a $300 trillion future value on cold fusion is like using
the cost of 1842 pond ice to extrapolate what we pay to make ice
in our kitchens, with our own refrigerators.10
Today Exxon earns $132 billion per year selling oil.
When cold fusion replaces oil, a tiny fraction of those billions
of dollars may be diverted into the pockets of people who invented
cold fusion, assuming they are clever enough to secure a patent.
The dollars will not be earned by the companies which manufacture
cold fusion machines like Toyota, Hitachi, Ford, or General Electric.
Today these companies manufacture gasoline engines for automobiles
and electric motors for appliances. Someday they will equip all
types of machines with cold fusion engines instead, but they will
not earn more profit. In the long run, competition ensures that
a manufacturer can only make a moderate profit above the cost of
materials and labor, and these costs will be the same (or less)
than they are with today's motors. Cold fusion motors will not require
particularly expensive materials, difficult manufacturing techniques,
or close tolerances. Even a palladium-based cold fusion engine may
not cost much. It might require roughly as much thin film palladium
as you find in the catalytic converter. When cold fusion automobiles
are first introduced, they will be sold at a premium. The first
companies to sell them will make a windfall profit. Then competition
will drive the price down, and cold fusion will become the standard.
It will be an invisible item included in the base price, along with
windshield wipers, electric head lights, and cabin heating. (These
three were optional, extra cost features when they were first introduced.)
No Monopoly or Broad Patent Likely
I do not think that cold fusion will concentrate
wealth or make one industry rich. I doubt that any one manufacturer
will be able to monopolize the market for cold fusion, or dominate
it the way IBM once dominated the computer business. One inventor
will not patent a device that all manufacturers will be forced to
license. This is unlikely for three reasons:
1. Many varieties of cold fusion have already been
observed, with palladium and nickel. A patent that covers all of
them would have to be very broad, which would leave it open to challenges.
2. Many different implementations will be developed.
It does not seem likely that one will be so superior that it will
capture the whole market. Specialized, patented forms of cold fusion
may dominate certain high performance niche applications, for things
like pacemakers or aerospace engines. But if an inventor tries to
monopolize a larger market, like space heating or automobile engines,
and he charges too much or refuses to broadly license the technology,
manufacturers will circumvent the patent. They will find alternative
methods that are good enough to do the job. This has been common
practice since James Watt devised the sun-and-planet steam engine
gear to circumvent a patent for a crank.11
3. The technology will change rapidly in the early
years. The first machines will soon look as quaint as early airplanes
and personal computers. Most patents will be obsolete before they
Cold fusion may be obsolete already. Other excess
energy devices have been reported, like the Correa and Griggs machines,
and various over-unity magnetic motors. Unlike cold fusion, they
have not been independently replicated, so we cannot be absolutely
sure they exist. If they are real then the money being poured into
legal battles to patent cold fusion is a total waste. Companies
spending money on these battles ought to be anxious to verify the
competing claims. They belittle and ignore the claims instead, as
if that will make them go away.
Increased Energy Use in Industry, Not
No single company or group of companies will
collect the billions that Exxon now earns. With the money they save
on gasoline, consumers may buy new carpets, education, or a vacation
in Rio. The money Exxon no longer earns will be spread out over
many different industries. For consumers, cold fusion is about saving
money, not spending it. In the early stages of its development,
cold fusion will benefit the consumer with lower prices more than
it benefits industry with higher sales or increased profit margins.
New technologies like medical CAT scans, computers, and the Internet
encourage the consumer to spend money in ways he had never imagined
before. Cold fusion produces energy, something we have always had.
In the third world, there is a terrible shortage of energy in daily
life for things like cooking, space heating, pumping water, and
transportation. But in developed nations the consumer market for
energy is close to saturation. It is already so cheap that people
use as much as they want. People keep their houses at a comfortable
temperature, turn on as many lights as they like, and drive as much
as they please without worrying about the price of gasoline. Traffic
congestion limits driving more than the cost of fuel.
The consumer market is saturated, but industry can
always use more energy. Energy-intensive industries like air travel,
aluminum smelting, and beer brewing will become more economical
overnight, even before cold fusion becomes widespread, because the
cost of fossil fuels will fall when people realize that cold fusion
is real. This may not please the airlines and beer brewers. It may
spur a price war or encourage many new companies to enter these
businesses. When the cost of computer memory and other microelectronics
plummeted, it did not help IBM or the minicomputer makers. New companies
like Compaq sprang up and took advantage of the "commodity pricing."
Industry, trucking firms, office building and shopping
mall managers will adapt cold fusion more quickly than homeowners
because they have a different attitude toward capital expenditures
and return on investment. They will change out capital equipment
even before it pays for itself or wears out, if they determine that
new equipment offers a sufficiently large return on investment.
Homeowners ought to do this. They would if they understood economics.
You can put $200 in the bank and earn 5% interest, or you can put
it in the stock market and earn 10% if you are lucky, or you can
invest it in ten compact flourescent light bulbs, which you use
to replace 100-watt incandescent bulbs as they burn out. The flourescent
bulbs cost more but they last 9 to 13 times longer, so you end up
spending an extra $103 on equipment. They consume 75 to 80% less
electricity. At 10 cents per kilowatt hour that saves $107 per year,
a gigantic, risk-free return on investment. Plus, you do not have
to bother changing burned out bulbs for the next seven years. As
one expert put it, "this is not a free lunch; it is a lunch you
are paid to eat."12,13
The Potential for Disruption
Cold fusion spin-off like indoor farming, desalination,
and aerospace engines will take decades to develop. They will require
massive investment, new factories, and years of research. Cold fusion
itself will take time to perfect, but the spin-offs will take longer
because they are more complex, and because large scale research
on them will not begin until cold fusion is commercialized. Indoor
farming with robots might take 30 to 60 years to develop. It is
cost effective for some crops already: flowers in the Netherlands,
tomatoes in Tokyo, aquaculture in Boston. But it will be a long
time, if ever, before we grow wheat more cheaply indoors than on
the Great Plains. The change to automated indoor farming will occur
gradually, giving displaced farm workers time to find new jobs.
The energy production industries oil, gas, coal, and the electric
power companies are another matter. The potential for chaotic
disruption here is very great, because the transition will be swift
and it will be in one direction only. All jobs will be lost, none
will be created.
It may take twenty years to develop the first cold
fusion aerospace engines, but most energy is used in simpler machines:
space heaters, electric generators, and automobiles. Cold fusion
will be applied to these within months of its introduction, and
it will quickly sweep these markets. Fossil fuel companies will
lose most of their business in the time it takes to replace the
automobile fleet (four to eight years). I fear that cold fusion
will abolish old jobs more quickly than it creates new ones. It
will cause a burst of unemployment. It will not be like the unemployment
in the 1920s when automobiles gradually displaced passenger trains,
or in the 1990s when computers finally began reducing the ranks
of middle managers forty-five years after ENIAC. Automobiles and
computers are so complicated, it took decades before they produced
a large impact on employment. Automobiles required breakthroughs
in motors, tires, quick drying paint, automatic starters, and so
on. They required years of massive investment in factories and supporting
technology like highways and refineries. Cold fusion will be implemented
quickly by substituting cold fusion engines for gasoline engines,
and leaving the rest of the vehicle alone. (Later models will be
re-engineered to better exploit cold fusion's advantages.) A home
generator will be a plug-in replacement for the power lines. Consumers
will be ready to take advantage of it the day it goes on sale.
The change over to cold fusion will be accelerated
in the last stages. It now takes six to eight years to replace nearly
every automobile on the road. The first cold fusion models will
be expensive and unreliable, but in a few years they will become
as cheap and reliable as gasoline models, and nearly every customer
will select them. As gasoline automobiles wear out, more and more
of the fleet on the road will be powered by cold fusion. When a
quarter of the automobiles no longer consume gasoline, gas stations
go bankrupt in droves. Retail gasoline profits margins are thin.
In the 1970s oil crisis, consumption fell by less than 10% but this
drove many stations out of business. It forced others to consolidate,
and it led almost all of them to modernize, install self-service
pumps, and set up convenience stores. When consumption drops by
20, 30 and then 50%, this will drive more than half of the gas stations
out of business. At some point it will become difficult to find
a gas station still in business. People will be stranded on highways.
Commuters will have to drive miles away from their neighborhood
to find one of the last remaining gas stations in the city. This
will force the holdouts to trade in their cars for cold fusion-powered
models. Not only will it become difficult to find fuel, it will
be difficult to find spare parts and mechanics qualified to repair
the old models. The shift in space heaters, water heaters, stoves
and electrical equipment will be accelerated for the same reason.
Normally, home appliances last 20 to 25 years. But when most have
been replaced by cold fusion models, you will not be able to find
a repairman or spare parts for the old models. It will be like trying
to fix an electric typewriter in the age of personal computers.
The gas and electric utility companies will begin filing for bankruptcy,
and they will stop delivery. It is not economical to run a gas or
electric power distribution network when only a small scattered
fraction of the houses in a city are connected.
It must be understood that we are not talking about
dislocations or a partial reduction in the number of employees in
the energy business. Cold fusion will eliminate every job in every
part of the energy economy. Cold fusion requires no labor, that
is, no extracting or hauling fuels, opening dam sluices, monitoring
pollution controls, or repairing power lines after a storm. It does
require mining and metal refining, but the metals are already mined
for use in gasoline engines. We may need more palladium than we
use today, but this will still take millions of times less labor
than we expend drilling for oil and mining coal. Nobody on earth
will ever again lift a finger to fuel a machine or transmit electricity.
We will have no more oil wells, coal mines or pipe lines; no oil
trucks or coal trains; and no power lines, or dams. Contrary to
some oil industry executives, I do not think there will be any market
for oil as a chemical feedstock.14 Enterprising companies
will devise cold fusion powered machines to synthesize oil from
air and water (or garbage and water). This will be cheaper, easier,
and far safer than pumping oil from the ground and transporting
it in ships and trucks. People who mine coal will not be mining
palladium or nickel ore; the miners already digging this ore will
not need much extra help. The plants at Ontario Hydro already produce
more heavy water than the entire world would need with cold fusion.15
Nobody will sell heavy water in a roadside gas station. A small
amount of heavy water, perhaps a kilogram, will be permanently sealed
in the motor when it is manufactured, the way acid is sealed in
This will be enough to drive the car millions of miles.16
Workers who assemble gasoline automobile engines today will do about
the same amount of work assembling cold fusion engines tomorrow.
They will not need help from unemployed oil company workers. This
point eludes many people: with cold fusion we will build engines
with the same metals and other materials as we use today, with about
the same amount of labor, but these engines will not require fuel.
Cold fusion calls for no extra effort, and no special value added
to the engine. In the larger sense, cold fusion will not cost anyone
anything - no resources and no work. We must build engines anyway
to replace the old ones as they wear out. We use nickel, steel and
palladium in gasoline engines, and we will use them in cold fusion
engines. People get the impression that cold fusion will be expensive
because experimental cold fusion cells are expensive and they take
a terrific amount of work to make. But so do prototype gasoline
engines. Cold fusion will be about as difficult to mass produce
as batteries, computer RAM chips, or catalytic converters. These
are physically similar to cold fusion devices, and they require
similar production techniques, cleanliness and handling.
The Energy Industry is Gigantic
The energy industry is so big and pervasive
that it is difficult to find reliable figures for the amount of
money it earns or the number of people it employs. Oil companies
are the most important players in the energy business. Oil and gas
wells together supply about 52% of energy worldwide,17
and 65% of U.S. energy.18 Oil is important because it
is a military strategic necessity. It powers most vehicles and weapon
systems. Oil is easy to blockade. Oil refineries are more vulnerable
to attack than coal mines or hydroelectric dams. Oil deposits are
not as evenly distributed around the world as coal, so oil concentrates
wealth in some countries and in the southwest United States. Oil
has a flamboyant history. It played a major role in both World Wars,
the Iran - Iraq war, and the Gulf War. Changes in oil prices and
periodic oil shocks have had a profound effect on the economy and
stock markets. As Yergin says in the conclusion of his definitive
history The Prize:
Oil has helped to make possible mastery
over the physical world. It has given us our daily life and, literally,
through agricultural chemicals and transportation, our daily bread.
It has also fueled the global struggles for political and economic
primacy. Much blood has been spilled in its name. The fierce and
sometimes violent quest for oil and for the riches and power it
conveys will surely continue so long as oil holds a central place.
For ours is a century in which every facet of our civilization
has been transformed by the modern and mesmerizing alchemy of
Information on U.S. and European oil companies is
readily available, but OPEC and Russian oil companies are secretive.
In 1984 OPEC appointed accountants to police quotas and maintain
the cartel. "The accountants were promised access to every invoice,
every account, every bill of lading. They did not get such access;
in fact, they had great difficulty even in gaining entrée to some
OPEC countries and were completely denied access to key facilities."19
I asked a spokesman at the American Petroleum Institute "roughly
how many people work in the industry, and what are your gross revenues?"20
He chuckled and said the numbers are so big "nobody has a handle
on that." He said overseas producers tell you only what they want
you to know, and their financial numbers cannot be trusted. However,
their production figures can be verified with reasonable confidence.
The oil they ship to Europe and America is carefully tallied. Here
are production figures in millions of barrels per day:
Worldwide production increased 7% in the last two
years. The average price per barrel is roughly $18. Annual production
is 27 billion barrels, or $489 billion per year. The retail value
of the products refined from the oil is difficult to compute. Eighty-one
percent of oil is sold as fuel, the price of which varies widely
from country to country. Nineteen percent is sold to make plastics,
fabrics, lipstick, and other synthetic products. Twenty-seven billion
barrels equal 1.1 trillion gallons, or 4.3 trillion liters, so if
all of the oil was sold at U.S. prices for fuel, it would be worth
more than a trillion dollars including tax. This is roughly one-sixth
of the U.S. GDP.
U.S. employment in the oil industry is staggering.
As of July 1996, 314,000 people worked in petroleum, natural gas
extraction. Ninety-nine thousand worked in refining. Pipelines,
distribution, wholesale and retail sales add another 1,011,800,
to give a total of 1.4 million people.21 Compare this
|Annual revenue, in billions
|Data from Hoover's Company
Capsules, CompuServe, Inc., and corporate annual reports
That is 1.1 million people at the big three automakers,
and roughly 1.4 million at all six companies. The impact of these
six going out of business in a short time is hard to imagine. This
does not even take into account the demise of coal and electric
power companies. It does not take into account the impact on the
other companies that supply oil companies with everything from drilling
equipment to health insurance. You get a sense of the total impact
of the industry from this advertisement published by Mobil Corporation
on the editorial page of the New York Times in 1995 (see
Infinite Energy Issue #13-#14, p. 38.). In 1994, the year
the advertisement refers to, Mobil employed 50,400 people. As shown
here, over five years it paid out $10 billion in salaries ($40,000
on average per year), and billions more in pensions, dividends,
taxes, and purchases of goods and services from other companies.
On the other hand, the economy does absorb large shifts
in employment. Oil industry employment has already declined considerably
in recent years. Total industry employment declined by 300,000 since
1983. The 1.4 million people still working in the industry are among
the best trained, most highly skilled workers in the world. As energy
industries are phased out, these people must be channeled into new
industries, especially large scale environmental clean up. It is
unfair to say this, but they are experts in causing pollution. Oil
is the largest source of air pollution. Spectacular refinery explosions
and oil tanker spills are a symbol of environmental destruction.
Yet the oil companies are not to blame. Oil is inherently dirty;
it used to be much worse. It has improved thanks to the skill of
these workers and the billions of dollars in pollution abatement
equipment purchased by the oil companies. Mobil spent $3.8 billion
on environmental activities. After the oil business collapses, perhaps
Mobil will re-emerge as a company that sells environmental expertise
to other industries. Cold fusion will eliminate about 70% of air
pollution. That will leave 30% of air pollution and most water and
ground pollution still to be cleaned up. I hope we can devote a
large part of the money we save on energy to this task. We must
re-engineer industrial plants, highways, and solid waste disposal.
With cold fusion plus the technology already in hand, I believe
we can reduce pollution in all categories by 95% or more.
Mobil's total revenues in 1994 were $75 billion;
the advertisement refers to U.S. revenue and expenditures only.
The world's largest oil company is Saudi Aramco, a member of OPEC.
As noted above, financial information from OPEC companies is difficult
to come by. The third largest oil company in the world is RD/Shell,
a consortium of 1,600 companies, including subsidiaries and joint
ventures. Here are 1996 earnings from six of the top 35 oil
companies. These are American or European companies, which publish
reliable income statements:
|Rank by production
|Annual revenue, in billions
Rank is from World Oil Editorial, www.gulfpub.com.
Revenue data from Hoover's Company Capsules, CompuServe, Inc., and
corporate annual reports.
Continued on the next page.