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ExxonMobil could double shale output with new technology

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Darren Woods, the chief executive of US-based oil major ExxonMobil, has said that over a five-year period, he expects the company to double the production from its shale assets thanks to new technology.

ExxonMobil, which also makes popular Mobil products like spindle oil and grease, set itself the target of pumping a million barrels per day (bpd) from its assets in the prolific Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused it to push back this target.

At the same time, though, the company said it was initiating a five-year programme of technology development, and this appears to be starting to bear fruit. Speaking at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions conference, Woods said about this programme:

“My challenge to the organization was to double recoveries and to find technologies that could unlock that. There is still a lot of oil being left on the ground.”

Only 10% of the potential resources are currently being recovered by Exxon’s shale operations, but Woods said some technologies for increasing recovery volumes looked promising. He added that resources could potentially flow more freely by more successfully maintaining fracks and fracking along lateral well segments that are much longer.

By developing its own technology in-house, Woods said this would enable Exxon to identify more suitable targets for acquisition. The company currently plans to grow its production in the Permian Basic by 9–11% this year, with it ultimately reaching between 900,000 and 1,000,000 bpd by 2027.

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