ExxonMobil outlines plans to grow long-term shareholder value in lower carbon future

ExxonMobil outlines plans to grow long-term shareholder value in lower carbon future

ExxonMobil has outlined its plans through 2025 to increase earnings and cash flow to sustain and grow its dividend, reduce debt and fund advantaged projects, while working to commercialise lower emission technologies in support of the goals of the Paris Agreement. 

“We are fully committed to growing shareholder value by meeting the world’s energy demands today and pursuing a technology-driven strategy to succeed through the energy transition,” Darren Woods, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said at the company’s annual investor day. 

“Our investment portfolio is the best we’ve had in over 20 years, and will grow earnings and cash flow in the near term while remaining flexible to market conditions and benefiting from on-going cost-reduction efforts. Looking ahead, we’re working to reduce our emissions and develop solutions, such as carbon capture and low-carbon hydrogen, needed to de-carbonise the highest emitting sectors of the economy – a critical requirement for society to achieve its net zero ambition.”

ExxonMobil plans capital spending of US$16-$19 billion in 2021 and US$20-$25 billion per year through 2025 on high-return, cash-accretive projects. Spending plans can be modified to reflect market conditions, as illustrated by successful efforts to preserve the value of investment opportunities while reducing capital spending by more than 30% in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. The company also reduced cash operating expenses by 15% in 2020 and expects permanent structural savings of US$6 billion a year by the end of 2023 versus 2019. 

Future spending plans take into account potential market volatility as the economy recovers from the pandemic. 

“Our investments are expected to generate returns of greater than 30%,” said Woods. “And 90% of our upstream investments in resource additions, including in Guyana, Brazil and the U.S. Permian Basin, generate a 10% return at US$35 per barrel or less. Downstream investments improve net cash margin by 30% and our Chemical investments grow high-value performance products by 60%.”

To grow shareholder value through the transition to a lower carbon economy, ExxonMobil has focused its extensive research and development portfolio on technologies to address hard to de-carbonise sectors of the economy responsible for approximately 80% of energy-related emissions — commercial transportation, power generation and heavy industry. 

The company’s newly created business, ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, was established to commercialise low-emission technologies, and will initially focus on carbon capture and storage (CCS), the process of capturing CO2 that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere from industrial activity, and injecting it into deep geologic formations for safe, secure and permanent storage. 

ExxonMobil is the industry leader in CCS technology and has more than 30 years of experience capturing carbon. The company has an equity share in about one-fifth of global CO2 capture capacity and has captured approximately 40% of all the captured anthropogenic CO2 in the world. ExxonMobil also produces about 1.3 million tonnes of hydrogen per year and is developing technology that could significantly lower the cost of both CCS and low-carbon hydrogen.

The International Energy Agency projects that CCS could mitigate up to 15% of global emissions by 2040 and the authoritative U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that global de-carbonisation efforts could be twice as costly without CCS. 

Using estimates and demand projections, including from IPCC Lower 2 degree Celsius scenarios, the market for CCS and other low-emission technologies and products is expected to grow significantly by 2040.

“Our development of next-generation technologies and existing businesses positions us well to capitalise on the growing demand for de-carbonisation and market opportunities that are increasingly coming together to support lower-carbon energy solutions,” said Woods. 

ExxonMobil met its 2020 emission reduction goals that included 15% reduction in methane emissions versus 2016 levels, and a 25% reduction in flaring versus 2016 levels.

The company’s 2025 emission reduction plans include a 15 to 20% reduction in upstream greenhouse gas intensity versus 2016 levels, supported by a 40 to 50% reduction in methane intensity and 35 to 45% reduction in flaring intensity. 

The plans are expected to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30% for the Upstream business. Absolute flaring and methane emissions are expected to decrease by 40 to 50% under the plans. The company also aims for industry-leading greenhouse gas performance and to eliminate routine flaring in line with the World Bank initiative by 2030.

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