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ExxonMobil Sees Room for Fossil, Alternative Fuels

Pessimists were asked to suspend their doubts Tuesday at ACT Expo -- alternative clean transportation -- in Long Beach, CA, where ExxonMobil Corp.'s corporate strategist Tahmid Mizan outlined the company’s forecast for fossil and alternative fuels to 2040.

Tahmid Mizan, who used ExxonMobil’s projections that were issued last December, described an "all-of-the-above" scenario for energy's future in which supplies and efficiency are driven to higher and higher levels through technological advances. Mizan stressed three points:

  • All affordable forms of energy will be needed, particularly in the power generation and transportation sectors;
  • Fossil fuels will still make up three quarters of the world's energy use in 2040, including petroleum products fueling 90% of the energy used for transportation; and
  • How the world uses all forms of energy will make a huge difference in whether the scenario actually becomes a reality.

ExxonMobil's global energy outlook is published annually; the latest offered its economic team’s view to 2040, which included an analysis of transport and the strength of growing natural gas supplies (see Daily GPI, Dec.12, 2013).

The immediate challenge is to take action and find leadership on the third bullet point, said Mizan, who has been with ExxonMobil in various capacities for the past 15 years.

The world's economies -- particularly emerging markets in Asia, North Africa-Middle East, South America and Mexico -- are expected to grow an average of 2.8% annually, but energy growth will be only 1% as continuing technology advancements boost efficiencies, Mizan told the audience.

"To achieve this sort of [projected] energy savings requires action on our part today," Mizan said. "It requires research and development, new technology, along with education, motivation, and most of all, leadership."

Of the major energy sectors (residential/commercial, industrial, power generation and transportation), electric generation and transportation will experience the largest growth -- 40% and 20%, respectively, by 2040, said Mizan. Natural gas is expected to grow by 7% a year, according to ExxonMobil’s projections.

"We expect a very rapid growth in natural gas, and by 2040, we expect 18 Bcf/d to be used in transportation with a lot of it in the United States. Four percent of the natural gas used at that time will go for transportation, with most of it for heavy duty vehicles and marine applications."

Projections call for 28,000 Tcf -- 60% conventional, 40% unconventional -- or a 200-year supply at current consumption rates.

"And the gas resources will be very well distributed throughout the world," said Mizan, noting that a lot of the demand for gas will be centered in places like Europe and Asia. "We anticipate that the [global] trade in natural gas will be two-and-a-half times greater than it is today in 2040. And North America will be a net exporter of gas by 2020."

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