Under Chairman & CEO Darren Woods, ExxonMobil Expands Drilling And Refinery Ops

Under Chairman and CEO Darren Woods, ExxonMobil is massively expanding its drilling and refinery operations.

A 26-year veteran of the Dallas-based oil and gas company, Woods took over the top post last year when his predecessor Rex W. Tillerson left to become U.S. secretary of state. At his first annual analyst meeting last March, Woods detailed ExxonMobil’s plans to massively boost its capital and exploration spending to expand reserves and production.

From 2017 through 2020, ExxonMobil plans to invest an average of $25 billion annually on exploration projects across the globe, from the shale fields of West Texas to deep waters off the coast of Guyana, with major production projects spanning Angola, Canada, Russia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

“We are confident,” Mr. Woods said at the meeting. “Our job is to compete and succeed in any market, irrespective of conditions or price.”

At the same time it expands drilling and exploration activities, ExxonMobil also spending $1 billion a year on initiatives to reduce emissions in the face of climate change, Woods told Forbes.

“We understand the risk and that it needs to be addressed,” Woods said. “We’re sincere in that. We believe that.”

The company has committed $600 million to Synthetic Genomics, which has found a way for algae to make lipids that would serve as the base for sustainable algae oil. Woods told Forbes that within two decades, ExxonMobil is aiming to build a 450,000-barrel-per-day algae refinery.

The company is also partnering with FuelCell Energy to make fuel cells powered by methane mixed with carbon dioxide and other emissions from power plants, the CEO said. Two of them are being installed at a coal plant operated by Alabama Power.

However, Woods emphasized that real progress on this front is going to take a carbon tax – something everyone will have to pay if they truly are committed to fighting climate change.

“If society wants to address this issue, you’ve got to have a price on carbon,” he said. “That’s what’s going to be required. Government has to take that action, and society has to be willing to pay that price in order to align the motives and solve this.”

He’s No. 3 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies.

Darren Woods, Chairman & CEO, ExxonMobil.

Headquarters: Irving, TX

Age: 52

Education: Texas A&M University (B.A.),  Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (MBA)

First joined company: 1992

Positions prior to being named CEO: President of ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Company and vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Named CEO: 2017

Katie Kuehner-Hebert :Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than two decades of experience writing about corporate, financial and industry-specific issues. She is based in Running Springs, Calif.