By Roger Zion
“About 20 years ago President Ronald Reagan asked me to serve as his Chairman of the Synfuels Corporation in Washington in the wake of a close to $100 billion appropriation by the Democratic Congress to build a massive synfuels effort in view of the quadrupling of oil prices, the oil embargo– the lines at all the gas stations, etc.
President Reagan wanted someone to come and head this important effort with oil industry knowledge plus applying common sense with a few billion dollars of federal money to work with several multinational oil companies to gain agreements for scaled up synfuels plants ranging from coal gasification plant in North Dakota to shale oil plants to unlock huge oil reserves in the Rocky Mountains, etc.
It is important to recall that Hitler ran much of his oil and fuel needs for his tanks and trucks and planes in World War II with synfuels made from German coal and coal from other countries he overran in Europe. Not many oil fields in Germany or anywhere in Europe except a few in Rumania.
In view of the current political and economic and military situation in the Middle East– and Iraq– it is vitally important to consider what our energy strategy should be to respond to any future reduction or cut off of vital oil imports from the Middle East. President Bush deserves congratulations for his leadership in proposing a balanced energy bill which hopefully will include opening up ANWR in Alaska and other domestic sources keep having local political and environmental opposition.
My major contribution to the energy security of our nation as Chairman of the Synfuels Corporation was to reduce the lead time for a massive all out effort to build massive numbers of synfuels plants– from perhaps 10 years to maybe as little as three years if we had to go for a Manhattan Project for Synfuels production to replace massive cutoffs of Middle East Oil imports– if this should ever happen. Of course this would not be economic unless the price of oil was rising to $40 or $50 or even $100 a barrel. But an energy “Dunkirk” in the Middle East with an embargo or torching the oil field as a result of war could bring our country to the urgent need for massive increases in domestic energy production AT ANY COST! Let us hope we never need to do this but synfuels– which we could produce in massive amounts AT A PRICE, could save our nation from an energy-starved depression.