The chief executive for the third-largest oil producer in the United States said on June 16 that alternative energy sources alone cannot solve the world's supply issues.
"We can double, triple all the forms of alternative energies in wind and solar and hydro, and even with doubling and tripling in a relatively short period of time, we're still going to be on fossil fuels," said James Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips at the National Summit in Detroit.
Mulva said it could take decades, maybe even a century, to replace the oil and gas industry with alternative energies. He referred to unexplored oil and gas in the United States as the country's "inconvenient secret."
He criticized the federal government for telling the nation to lessen its dependence on foreign oil while preventing efforts to explore domestically. He also said the government should let the market decide energy sources rather than picking "winning technologies."
"I don't think our policymakers really understand the dynamics of the energy challenge that we face," he said.
He said the oil industry as a whole needs to do a better job of communicating the long-term need for fossil fuels.
"Our industry has not done a good job of stating its case over a number of decades but it's absolutely important at this time that we get in and talk about the importance of fossil fuels," said Mulva.