Fri, Mar 08, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Exxon predicts decline in production this year

OUTPUT EXPANSION:The firm’s CEO said output would rise after this year after the start of 22 new major projects, including operations in Canada

AP, DALLAS, Texas

Exxon Mobil Corp expects production to decline by about 1 percent this year due to weaker output of natural gas, then rise in the next few years as new projects start up.

The oil and gas giant expects annual production to rise by 2 percent to 3 percent per year through 2017.

INVESTMENT

It plans to spend US$190 billion on exploration and development over the next five years.

The company gave the forecast on Wednesday at its annual meeting with analysts in New York.

Exxon Mobil’s production fell 6 percent last year, but the company still earned US$44.9 billion, barely missing its own 2008 record, thanks to higher refining margins.

Analysts have raised concern about Exxon’s falling production and the higher costs of extracting hard-to-reach oil and gas.

Chief executive officer Rex Tillerson said that last year’s production fell short of the company’s expectations because of “operational performance issues” at some facilities, lower prices and lower spending in Iraq.

Tillerson said output would rise after this year as Exxon starts production at 22 major projects over the next three years, including expanding the Kearl oil sands operation in Alberta, Canada, and exploration in the Russian Arctic.

He said most of the increase will come from oil production. Most of the new projects are tilted toward oil rather than gas.

Natural gas prices in North America have been low for several years as drilling techniques allow companies to extract gas that was once beyond their reach.

Exxon has been the biggest US producer of natural gas since buying XTO Energy in 2010.

Tillerson also said that the company is studying options for shipping Canadian crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries if the US does not approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Environmental groups have pressured US President Barack Obama’s administration to block the pipeline, which they argue would add to climate change by encouraging burning of thick tar-sands oil.

OPTIONS

A US State Department report released this week — based on the assumption that the oil will be used no matter what — said that other shipping options such as rail, truck or barge would be worse for the environment than the pipeline.

Exxon Mobil predicted that global energy demand will grow 35 percent by 2040 with oil and gas accounting for more than coal, nuclear or other sources.

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