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Long-Term Investments Key, Says ExxonMobil Exec

To successfully meet the world's future energy needs, the oil and gas industry has to make investments and be committed for the long haul, Rich Kruger, president of ExxonMobil Production Co., said last week.

Kruger gave a keynote address at the three-day 2009 International Petroleum Technology Conference in Doha, Qatar. The annual conference draws thousands of natural gas and oil industry specialists from around the world.

"Our industry has faced significant challenges before...and each time we have shown that the key in times like these is to maintain a long-term view and focus on the fundamentals," he said.

Despite the economic downturn in the past year, ExxonMobil maintained its capital investment program, Kruger noted. The Irving, TX-based major still plans to spend $25-30 billion a year over the next five years on energy projects around the world.

"These are record investment levels, made possible by our long-term view of industry cycles and our financial discipline," he told delegates.

Kruger's comments mirrored those of ExxonMobil Senior Vice President Mark W. Albers, who said in September that the company was in business for the long haul and that it was not the time to slow investment activity or technology development in oil and gas (see NGI, Sept. 14).

To ensure that the energy needs of the world are met, energy efficiency is "critical," Kruger said. "It's effectively the single greatest supply of energy that we have available right now. We estimate that by 2030, the amount of energy saved through efficiency gains will be equivalent to approximately 145 million bbl/d of oil, or about twice the amount of new energy from all sources."

Technology also plays a key role in ExxonMobil's plans to bring new energy supplies to market and to lower the environmental impact, said Kruger. Citing carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) as one such promising technology for the future, Kruger noted that ExxonMobil has spent more than three decades researching, developing and applying the technologies that comprise CCS.

Earlier this year Forbes Magazine named ExxonMobil the "green company of the year," citing the producer's turn toward more natural gas projects and its big bet on renewable technologies (see NGI, Aug. 17).

ExxonMobil has gas projects under way across the globe; in the United States the company is one of the biggest gas producers in the Piceance Basin of Colorado. In the renewable energy field, ExxonMobil plans to spend more than $600 million on an algae project over the next five to six years, which would make it the largest of its kind in the world (see NGI, July 20).

"We've made big strides," said Kruger. "But as we advance new technologies, it's essential to remember that energy solutions cannot be created in a vacuum that ignores issues of size, scope and cost."

The essential role of governments and policymakers cannot be understated, he said. "We need government leaders willing to commit to building the stable fiscal and regulatory frameworks that support energy investments. We also need policymakers with endurance who ensure those long-term policies are carried out and protected over time."

Ultimately, he said, "success will be determined by how well industries, governments and people from all over the world come together in this shared commitment for a brighter energy future."

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