Two top officials of the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corp. will travel to Japan soon to try to attract Japanese investors to synthetic fuels projects.
The visit comes at a time when private investors in the United States are showing less and less inclination to pour money into synthetic fuels projects. The most recent example of that reluctance was a decision by Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) to abandon millions of dollars already spent on a coal gasification project in Gillette, Wyo.
The Synfuels Corp. was scheduled to hand out by the end of the month the first funding for projects developed since the corporation was formed. However, the Sohio pullout from one project and failure of investor support for another potential project make it likely that the corporation will not meet that deadline.
In the meantime, Edward E. Noble, chairman of the board, and Victor A. Schroeder, president of the corporation, will meet with representatives of the Japanese government and private sector representatives in Japan to discuss possible Japanese involvement in developing a U.S. synthetic fuels industry.
Noble will address the Pan Pacific Synfuels Conference on Nov. 18 and Schroeder will participate in a symposium sponsored by the New Energy Development Organization on Nov. 10. Both meetings are in Japan. The Japanese have generally indicated greater interest in synthetic fuels than Americans, in part because of Japan's drive to diversify the sources of its energy supplies.
Approximately half of the cost of the trip to Japan will be paid with federal funds. That should amount to approximately $4,000 to $5,000, according to Karen Hutchison, spokeswoman for the SFC. Hutchison said that the two groups to be addressed by Noble and Schroeder were paying part of the costs but since their agendas include more than those meetings, the agency is paying the rest.
Schroeder is also traveling to Germany, on his way to Japan, to meet with executives of Ruhrkohle A.G. The German firm, a coal company that has been involved in synthetic fuels development, had asked to learn more about the SFC's operation.