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Exxon CEO sets ambitious agenda on tight timeline

New York, December 05, 2023, The Europe Today: Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods’ first five years at the oil company were marred by missed oil production targets, an investor rebellion and the company’s biggest-ever financial loss.

Redemption came this year when – aided by a share price pumped up by high oil prices – he clinched a $60 billion deal to buy shale rival Pioneer Natural Resources to guarantee a steady stream of crude from the United States’ most prized shale field.

Exxon’s stock has underperformed rival Chevron over the course of Woods’ tenure as CEO. The company recorded a $22 billion loss in 2020 in the depth of the pandemic. Now, his biggest challenge lies ahead as he executes a strategy to compete for investors demanding high returns and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

His plan aims to balance profits from cheaper barrels of oil closer to home, like Guyana’s vast offshore oilfields, with a risky multi-billion-dollar promise to create and sell decarbonizing services at margins akin to oil.

“We can address the emissions without throwing out all the investments that have been made (in oil),” the CEO told media at the climate summit COP28 on Saturday. “Whatever the demand is, we’re competitive. That’s the strategy.”

Woods has set for himself a short four years to deliver on his latest strategy, according to Reuters interviews with Exxon executives, former employees, investors and partners.

The executive plans to lay out to investors a new era for Exxon on Wednesday, when he updates the company’s capital spending plans and production curve to incorporate his recent goals.

That future includes pumping more than 4.4 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) by 2027, a goal that will require new technology to squeeze an extra 700,000 bpd or more from its existing shale wells.