What the heck is “Thermogenic Oil?” I thought you’d never ask …

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, August 16, 2010

Well, as I noted in the Daily Update email on Friday, the Thermogenic Oil teaser from the Stansberry folks has garnered more interest from my readers than anything else in recent months — so at the very least, that copywriter deserves a raise.

And I also said I’d try to take a closer look and confirm whether my suspicions are correct — so that’s what I’m doing this morning. The ad is coming in both as a loooong email teaser and as a video pitch, which I’m seeing a lot more of lately from all the Agora-affiliated publishers. And perhaps the fact that it’s for one of the more expensive newsletters out there helps to make it seem like a sexier idea, I dunno (the pitch this time is for Stansberry’s Phase 1 Investor, their “upgrade” subscription that has a list price of $5,000, now edited by Frank Curzio).

So I’ll just warn you up front that there are a lot of folks who are seeing the ad, and the companies they’re pitching are tiny ones — even if I say something bad about the stocks below, just the additional attention from yours truly could easily be enough to move the shares if we get a bunch of folks looking for the stock.

That’s nothing new, of course, and I think most of my readers expect as much, but I think it’s occasionally worth reminding you — in an interesting side note, industry insider J. Christoph Amberger (or at least “former insider,” I haven’t seen his stuff lately and he’s newly a novelist as well), who helped to build Taipan for years, also speculated in a recent blog post about whether folks like us are unwitting patsies in the teaser promos for these expensive letters, driving up the price so the editor can claim great performance — he uses the example of that Gold Sands teaser that this same newsletter ran last month. He’s an interesting guy, and his blog is worth a read if you like the “inside baseball” stuff about this industry.

But I’ve gotten off track again already (again, nothing new there, either) — what the heck is Thermogenic Oil, and how do you invest in the companies who produce it?

The ad is a looooong one, as noted, but here’s the basic pitch:

“There’s a ‘new oil’ bubbling underground in America. It’s not a hydrocarbon (like regular oil or natural gas). It’s not radioactive, either (like uranium). Fully harnessed, this ‘new oil’ could light huge swaths of the country for several thousand years. Already it has the full backing of the U.S. government, and is powering cars, hospitals, schools, military operations… even entire cities. As it enters the next stage of development, early investors could make 800% or more.”

Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, the description of this “new oil” goes on for far longer, talking about the many places where it’s found in the US, the great potential, the clean nature of it … here’s a little edited extract just to give you a taste:

“What’s so special about ‘Thermogenic Oil?’

“Well, like regular petroleum, it’s capable of producing incredible amounts of energy… to fuel cars, to power factories… and to heat homes and schools. But there are quite a few differences too.

“‘There’s no smoke. Very little noise,’ said the director of one of America’s leading “Thermogenic” developers. ‘People don’t even know it’s here.’

“Also, it’s much more abundant than regular crude… especially here at home….

“It is estimated that simply by tapping 2% of this source in America, we could produce 2,000 times the country’s entire annual energy consumption, according to the [MIT] report….

“Another thing to keep in mind: ‘Thermogenic Oil’ CANNOT spill. It’s not a hydrocarbon like oil or natural gas… nor is it radioactive like uranium. So it doesn’t pose a public policy risk or a PR nightmare….

“It’s no wonder some of the smartest and most influential investors and firms have ponied up for stakes in ‘Thermogenic Oil’…

“Vinod Khosla (the cofounder of Sun Microsystems), and Steve Cohen’s S.A.C. Capital Advisors. Even the richest man in America (and our most successful investor) Warren Buffett…

“And why Google – one of the world’s most influential and successful businesses – has quietly been pouring millions into this new energy source…

“In short: Like most radically superior and transformative ideas, this one is catching on everywhere, at the same time…

“And not just in the U.S…

“In France, of all places, the country plans to increase its reliance on this energy source 6-fold by 2020.

“In fact, they’re gearing up to tap a huge ‘Thermogenic oil’ deposit – about 5,500 feet underneath one of their largest airports. According to Wired Magazine, this will reduce the airport’s ‘fuel needs by thousands of tons a year.’

“Canada has discovered it may be sitting on ‘hundreds, even thousands’ of easily accessible deposits, according to the Toronto Sun. Companies are “sprouting up everywhere” to tap them…

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“And China, not to be outdone, has rapidly developed a small test stage ‘Thermogenic oil’ facility, which supplies a portion of the energy needs of a small municipality of roughly 1,000. So far, it’s been a big success. Just a couple weeks ago, the Chinese Government signed an agreement to pour more money into ‘Thermogenic Oil’ exploration and development.”

Sounds incredible, no? Then they get into stuff that serves both to mak