Two headlines on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times NYT. The first, titled “Rebels Open New Fronts For Climate, And Win,” was about environmental activists gaining headway against the fossil fuel sector. The second article, titled “Biden Finds Fossil Fuels Hard to Quit,” discussed the approval of an oil project in Alaska.
Readers may question how to reconcile the apparent inescapability of the end of the fossil fuel era with continuous investment in them—and the Democratic president accepts such investments. However, it was published by Norton in 1977 for the Worldwatch Institute. You say, “Aha, this time is different,” referring to Climate change and renewable energy. These are worthy of serious consideration, but for this article, I’d like to go back in time to propose that the current hysteria about the oil industry transition should be treated with a grain of salt.
One of the teachers used to claim that there were only five true management theories, which I associate with terms like “power ties,” “power lunches,” and “hoteling,” as well as more severe concepts like “quality circles” and “six sigma.” Few realize, however, that the oil business has been subjected to several requests for transformation, nearly all of which have proven to be erroneous.
Over the years, several proposed strategic shifts in the oil industry have received only sporadic implementation. It includes the formation of national oil companies, nationalization of the US oil industry, vertical de-integration, and Enron’s suggestion that large corporations could become asset-light “virtual” corporations.