ExxonMobil outlined Wednesday a “lower-carbon” future involving both significant carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and continued fossil fuel use in a plan that looked unlikely to fully satisfy environmental critics.
The US oil giant, long criticized by environmentalists for dragging its feet on climate change and renewable energy, emphasized the potential for CCS in climate mitigation, according to slides released ahead of a morning investor day with Chief Executive Darren Woods and other senior leaders.
“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,” Woods said in a statement.
The ExxonMobil event comes amid shifting US political dynamics on climate change, with the United States rejoining the Paris climate agreement and Congress refocusing on the topic after it was depriortized under former president Donald Trump.
ExxonMobil announced a 2021 capital budget of between $16 and $19 billion, with heavy oil and gas upsteam investments in the United States’ Permian Basin as well as in Guyana and Brazil.
But much of its slide presentation focused on climate mitigation, particularly CCS, which captures emissions from industrial sources including refineries and chemical plants and injects them deep into geologic formations for permanent storage.
CCS currently is in use at relatively modest levels worldwide, but policy makers see the method as part of the toolbox for mitigating climate change.
ExxonMobil pointed to an International Energy Agency projection that CCS could mitigate up to 15 percent of global emission by 2040.
In the powerpoint, ExxonMobil argues that CCS has potential to be more cost effective than other green solutions. The technology has a $2 trillion addressable market by 2040, according to one of the slides.
Still, there were early indications that ExxonMobil’s plan will not be enough for critics.
The company did not announce major new investments in renewable energy or promise to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 as Royal Dutch Shell and some other rivals have.
Engine No. 1, an activist investor group that focuses on climate change and has nominated four directors to ExxonMobil, said on Tuesday that embracing CCS was not enough.
“There is little, if any, chance that (carbon capture) will enable ExxonMobil or any other oil major to avoid transforming its business over the long-term if the pace of global decarbonization accelerates in accordance with the Paris climate agreement goals,” Engine No. 1 said on Twitter. (AFP)