INSIGHT: ExxonMobil – tackling stakeholder pressure

Author: Nigel Davis

2021/04/27

LONDON (ICIS)--You’d expect one of the world’s largest companies to think big when it come to its very survival.

Under increasing political and investor pressure – at least from certain quarters – the energy major ExxonMobil has more publicly begun to lay out more radical thinking on how it believes the climate emergency might be tackled.

A project proposed by the firm is to capture up to 100m tonnes/year of carbon dioxide (CO2) from all the petrochemical and power facilities along the Houston Ship Channel and store the gas in geologic formations in the Gulf of Mexico.

ExxonMobil has 30 years of carbon capture and storage (CCS) experience and on Tuesday said it had created a new business, ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, that would bring together its CCS expertise and advance plans for 20 new CCS projects.

It expects to invest $3.0bn on “lower emission energy solutions" through 2025.

The company is facing a battle with some shareholders at its annual general meeting (AGM) in late May.

Drawing fire from activist investor Engine No 1, which is proposing four alternative board members, the company is reminding shareholders of its decades of expertise applying capital at scale to hydrocarbons exploration, production and processing, and in delivering value.

It faces an opponent, however, that has capture the zeitgeist, and is urging faster, more radical, low-carbon action.

How a hydrocarbons giant such as ExxonMobil might change is questionable, particularly if demands from a growing global population and for increasing global prosperity are to be met.

The company says, however, that Engine No 1 has provided no plan to create shareholder value and does not understand what ExxonMobil intends to do.

Whether re-positioning in a lower carbon operating environment, and end of pipe solutions such as that proposed are sufficient, on many fronts, remains to be seen.

Source: ExxonMobil investor presentation

Insight by Nigel Davis