The world's continuously increasing demand for energy and the decreasing supply of conventional hydrocarbons are on a collision course. While there is a range of non-conventional hydrocarbon sources available to draw upon - including oil shale, tar sands, and liquefied and gasified coal - none of these can become an immediate substitute for conventional hydrocarbons in any significant way. Still, these synthetics do have potential between now and 1985 and development must be pursued. The economic reality of synthetic fuels has reached the point where such fuels cannot be considered uncompetitive and unrealistic. The sooner the United States of America can embark on a vigorous development programme for synthetif fuels, the better off will be the nations of Western Europe and other industrial nations dependent on foreign sources of petroleum. Non-conventional hydrocarbons produced in North America probably will not be exported in large quantities but can help to alleviate the pressure for available world petroleum supplies.