Darren W. Woods
CEO and Chairman, ExxonMobil Corporation
World Gas Conference 2018 Opening Plenary
June 26, 2018
Washington DC, USA
Thank you, Dan [Yergin]. Great to be here.
And it’s great that the World Gas Conference is being held here in the United States.
America has emerged as a global leader in natural gas production, thanks to the shale revolution that started about a decade ago.
The “shale gale,” as Dan calls it, has not only boosted the U.S. economy, it has transformed markets around the world. And it has had a profound impact on helping mitigate the risks of climate change.
Fueling the future and the dual challenge
We’re asked this morning to discuss what it means to “Fuel the Future.”
That’s something our company has been doing for more than 135 years.
Fueling the future has meant a lot of different things in that time – from lighting lamps with kerosene to powering the world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes to heating, cooling and powering businesses, industries and cities with new supplies of natural gas
Companies like the ones Mike Wirth and I lead have embraced the mission to provide the energy the world needs and fuel the future. Energy underpins modern society.
In fact, energy is essential to everything we do: improving living standards and lifting people out of poverty, growing economies and providing for healthy, vibrant communities.
But as we produce the energy that makes the world go, we realize we must do so in a ways that safeguards our environment.
This includes finding solutions that address the risks of climate change.
This is our industry’s dual challenge.
Natural gas – described so often and by so many as the “fuel of the future” – is a big part of the solution.
The promise of natural gas
We all know the facts. Natural gas is abundant. It’s relatively inexpensive. And since it’s cleaner than coal when used for electricity generation, it can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the past decade, the shale revolution in the United States has demonstrated these benefits.
Natural gas has been a pillar of U.S. economic strength. Jobs are being created. Domestic manufacturing is flourishing. And energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are falling.
All because our industry’s innovation has unlocked huge supplies of energy once thought inaccessible.
And as the market for LNG expands, the economic and environmental benefits from natural gas that we’ve seen in the United States can spread worldwide.
Challenges and opportunities
We all know that the natural gas business is highly competitive. The challenge is to supply markets at the lowest cost.
The companies that do so are the ones that will survive for the long term.
Policy makers face energy challenges as well. Their job is to develop a constructive framework for dealing with climate change, and perhaps more importantly, to get the international community to work in unison.
We supported the Paris Agreement for this reason. It explicitly recognized that dealing with climate change is a global challenge and it demands a global response.
Without a concerted, coordinated approach, we hinder the ability to make realistic progress.
Hinging on technology
But ultimately, the key to meeting the dual challenge will be technology.
Technology has been critical in economically meeting the world’s energy needs.
And technology will be critical in continuing to do so while protecting our environment.
The right policies can help set the stage, but technology will make the difference.
That’s why our research and development focuses on solutions to provide energy and cut emissions. We’re working in areas where we think we can make the greatest contributions.
In the power generation sector, carbon capture and storage is one of our major focus areas. We believe this is a scalable solution, and we’re making good progress.
In the transportation sector, we’re taking the lead on developing next-generation biofuels from algae.
And in our own operations, we’ve improved energy efficiency in our refineries by 10 percent since 2000. We’ve also reduced emissions intensity in our Chemical business by 7 percent since 2013.
Just last month, we announced more initiatives to further cut our own greenhouse gas emissions, including an effort to reduce methane emissions in 2020 by 15 percent, focusing on our unconventional operations.
Yesterday, we participated in a roundtable discussion with the Environmental Defense Fund to lay out some of the specifics. We detailed how technology – like methane leak detection systems – will play an important role.
It’s part of our ongoing drive to develop lower-emission energy solutions. Since 2000, we’ve spent more than $9 billion in this area – an investment that’s both good for the environment and for our business.
Before I close, let me step back in time for a moment.
Forty years ago, this country was mired in debates over natural gas price deregulation. More broadly, the talk about energy focused on scarcity, shortages and “limits to growth.”
People worried we would be unable to “Fuel the Future.”
Today, the paradigm has shifted. Worries about energy supplies have faded away, erased in large part by natural gas.
The discussion about natural gas now focuses on abundance economic growth, global trade, energy security and environmental improvements.
Today, there is a sense of optimism that we are fully capable of meeting the challenges ahead.
And thanks to natural gas – and to the technological innovation companies like ExxonMobil bring to the table – we can fuel a cleaner, more prosperous future for generations to come.