Exxon CEO: world needs oil of five Saudi Arabias by 2040

Rex Tillerson tells industry event oil and gas companies will thrive in coming decades despite climate policies

Fossil fuel companies have historically offered strong returns, attracting fund managers (Pic: BP)


Global demand for energy will grow 25% in the next 25 years and countries will guzzle oil five times the size of Saudi Arabia’s reserves.

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson was on bullish form in London on Wednesday, dismissing any concerns that the UN’s new climate treaty will limit near-term consumption of oil and gas.

His scenario would blow efforts to contain global warming to below the 2C danger zone sky high, unless nascent carbon capture technologies come online fast.

While greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries will likely peak in 2030, developing economies will struggle as they burn more fossil fuels, Tillerson told the Oil and Money conference.

As a company Exxon “shares the view that addressing climate change is serious and warrants thoughtful action,” he said, citing projects on carbon capture, efficiency and waste heat conversion.

Tillerson also said he supports a price on carbon, noting that Exxon already operates with an average internal carbon cost of $80 per tonne, double that of Shell.

“We have long used a proxy cost of carbon… there’s a range depending on the country, depending on the tax that we think would be appropriate,” he said.

“We’re trying to influence and inform people and business on the choices they make.”

Analysis: Why the new climate math is a declaration of war

Exxon has come under intense pressure in the past year over evidence it ignored warnings from its own scientists of the dangers posed by burning fossil fuels way back in the 1980s.

Leaked internal documents clash with the company’s public position over the past decades and funding of lobbying to cast doubt on the veracity of climate science.

It is facing an inquiry from a coalition of Democrat attorney generals led by New York State’s Eric Schneiderman into what the company knew.

Tillerson avoided mentioning the issue, but insisted the company he has run since 2006 was committed to doing the “right thing the right way”.

“Integrity is in everything we do. It’s the foundation of trust and cooperation. A focus on integrity makes a corporations more effective,” he said.

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