ExxonMobil Corp. shareholders stepped in line with management at the annual meeting on Wednesday in Dallas, although sentiment grew from a year ago to separate the board chairman and CEO roles.
CEO Darren Woods said the supermajor is working to boost earnings and cash flow potential while working to reduce emissions. The company is “committed” to sharing its success with investors, with higher earnings and increased cash flow a “good means to accomplish this.”
At the same time, he said, the company is “equally committed to helping society reduce global emissions while supporting growth and prosperity for communities around the world -- effectively addressing the dual challenge.”
ExxonMobil expects to increase annual earnings potential by more than 140% and double potential annual cash flow from operations by 2025 from 2017 adjusted earnings, assuming a 2017 oil price of $60/bbl adjusted for inflation and based on 2017 margins.
Major upstream projects are progressing to increase output to around 5 million boe/d by 2025, including plans to boost Permian Basin productionto 1 million boe/d by 2024.
Also on the radar are new developments in Guyana and Brazil, as well as in Mozambique, where ExxonMobil secured offtake commitments for the proposed Rovuma liquefied natural gas(LNG) export project as it progresses toward a final investment decision. Also in Papua New Guinea, a three-train LNG expansion is on the table.
ExxonMobil also is on track to more than double earnings potential from 2017 adjusted results by 2025 in its downstream and chemical businesses, with investments that capitalize on proprietary technology.
“A great example is the new hydrocracker at our Rotterdam refinery which started up late last year,” Woods said. “Using technology we developed, we are now upgrading low-value product streams directly into higher-value base stocks and distillates -- a first for our industry.”
The CEO also highlighted continuing efforts to address society’s dual challenge of providing affordable energy necessary for economic growth while reducing environmental impacts.
Last year, ExxonMobil participated in a Vatican-led climate dialogue, joined the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative and advocated for policies such as a carbon tax and strong methane regulations.
The company also is advancing potential technology breakthroughs, he said, including next-generation biofuels for transportation, carbon capture for power generation and new industrial processes to reduce energy use.
“The world needs additional solutions,” Woods said. “That’s where we think we can add significant value -- leveraging ExxonMobil’s experience in the global energy system and our strong foundation in research and development.”
The company recently committed to spend up to $100 million over 10 years on research with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and National Energy Technology Laboratory to bring lower-emissions technologies to commercial scale.
“The agreement adds to our work with more than 80 universities around the world and with five energy centers” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Texas and two national universities in Singapore, Wood said. “In addition, we partner with private sector companies that have unique capabilities critical to potential breakthroughs, such as Synthetic Genomics on algae biofuels.”
Shareholders re-elected the board and supported the executive compensation program. They also ratified PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as independent auditors and supported board recommendations on seven shareholder-led proposals.
As recommended by the board, shareholders defeated measures to split the chair/CEO role, although support for the shareholder-backed initiative was more than 40%, up about 3% year/year.
Shareholders also beat back activist proposals to create a special committee on climate change, report the risks of climate change at Gulf Coast chemical plants and report political contributions and lobbying.
More than 3.6 billion, or more than 86%, of the outstanding shares were represented at this year's meeting. On average, more than 93% voted in favor of the 10 persons nominated by the board to serve as directors.