Yes, the announcement that Phillips 66 plans to repurpose their local oil facilities into refineries for renewables came as a surprise (8/14/20). However, it fits a larger pattern that is occurring all over the world.
In Europe, BP and Shell have accelerated their production of clean energy, under pressure from governments and investors. The falling price of oil due to COVID-19 will most likely continue post-pandemic, as we have surpassed peak demand, while the cost of extraction continues to rise.
ExxonMobil, which is seeking approval to restart three wells in the Santa Barbara Channel, is in desperate straits. Its return on invested capital has gone from 35 percent in 2009 to less than 5 percent in 2020. Global investments in fossil fuels are also in decline, with investments in renewable energy now three times that in fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, Plains All American, which has applied to re-build the pipeline that busted in 2015 causing a major spill on our coastline, has seen its profits slide by more than two-thirds.
Clean energy employs five times more workers in California than all fossil fuel industries combined. Almost 10 percent of workers in clean energy are military veterans, and 60 percent of California’s clean energy employment is in construction and manufacturing, including electricians, iron workers, carpenters, drivers, engineers, and laborers — the kind of good union jobs that people in our county need to recover economically from COVID-19.
Now that’s a much-needed shot in the arm for our county’s economy, post-pandemic.