ExxonMobil Bets on Electric Vehicles

Nov. 14, 2023
The world’s largest energy producer, and the No. 1 company on the IndustryWeek U.S. 500 List of the largest manufacturing companies in the country, plans to drill for lithium-rich saltwater in Arkansas.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? Global oil and gas giant ExxonMobil plans to start drilling for lithium, the primary material in electric vehicle batteries, in Arkansas with production expected to begin in 2027.

“Lithium is essential to the energy transition, and ExxonMobil has a leading role to play in paving the way for electrification,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. Ammann joined ExxonMobil in mid-2022 following a 10-year career at General Motors that included a 5-year stint as the automaker’s president and three years as CEO of Cruise, GM’s troubled autonomous vehicle division.

Even with EV demand growth slowing in the third quarter, automakers are rushing dozens of new EVs to market, driving up demand for batteries and battery chemicals. Exxon officials said they expand demand to quadruple for the light metal by 2030.

ExxonMobil plans to drill for the metal, not mine it. Earlier this year, it bought mineral rights to the Smackover formation in southern Arkansas where geologists believe underwater saltwater deposits contain tons of lithium. ExxonMobil plans to pump the water out of the ground, filter out the lithium and send the saltwater back into underground reservoirs.

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