But do we really need new refineries? Big oil says no:
Yesterday, as part of a daylong seminar on the energy industry for reporters at the Chronicle's offices, Exxon Mobil Vice President Kenneth Cohen offered some insights on why the company doesn't build more new refineries in the U.S. Basically, Cohen said, building even a small refinery would require an investment of $2 billion to $3 billion.
"Once you've made that investment, what you're looking at is `what's the growth?' It's just like any other business," he said.
Exxon predicts U.S. oil demand may begin to fall by 2030, which means the company faces a limited window for return.
Even Exxon is willing to admit that demand for oil may begin to fall by 2030, and they're planning for a future in which alternates play a larger role.