HOUSTON (ICIS)--ExxonMobil is focusing its research and development (R&D) on emissions cutting and energy production to help meet its methane emission reduction goals, the company’s executive said during an annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
“In 2040, oil and gas will likely meet about 55% of the world’s energy needs, equivalent to about 200m bbl/day. That’s up from about 160m today,” ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods said. “Technologies, especially methane leak detection systems, play an important role in this.”
The company made a formal announcement on 23 May to drop methane emissions by 15% and reduce flaring by 25% by 2020.
The cuts, which are compared to 2016 levels, are expected to be complete by 2020, Exxon added, with the most significant cuts to methane and flaring emissions expected to take place at its western African operations.
The Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) senior energy policy manager Matt Watson said that although ExxonMobil’s methane commitment is an important step, the industry requires “greater ambition” and should try to virtually eliminate methane emissions.
“ExxonMobil’s commitment is evidence of growing global momentum to address this urgent climate issue,” Watson said in a statement provided by EDF. “With increased scrutiny from consumers and investors, setting strong methane targets – and delivering on those reductions in ways that are transparent and verifiable – is simply good business, positioning industry leaders to be more competitive in the transition to a cleaner energy future.”
ExxonMobil noted in a blog post that it has invested more than $9bn over the last 18 years on energy efficiencies and technology in its efforts to reduce emissions. Investments have gone into cogeneration, flare reduction, biofuels, carbon capture and other technologies.
“Technology is truly the 'x' factor,” Woods said. “The history of our industry shows how technology can radically change the game and create real value.”
Woods also highlighted the company’s commercial algae biofuels programme with Synthetic Genomics, saying it could lead to the ability to produce 10,000 bbl/day by 2025.