Exxon working on direct air capture of CO2, stays out of EV charging stations

Source: By Nia Williams, Reuters • Posted: Wednesday, September 20, 2023

CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp is working on developing technology for direct air capture (DAC) of carbon dioxide, and sees a clear place for it in a net-zero future, an Exxon executive said on Tuesday, but the largest U.S. oil company has no plans to invest in building electric vehicle charging stations.

The company could become a major player in the nascent DAC industry if high costs come down and the technology gets to a point where it can work efficiently at scale, Matthew Crocker, senior vice president of product, strategy and new assets in Exxon’s low carbon solutions business, said in an interview.

Direct air capture involves extracting carbon directly from the atmosphere. It is considered essential to limiting global warming, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but costs are extremely high and currently range from $600 to $1,000 per ton of carbon removed.

The technology could be developed on the back of Exxon’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) business which will also involve trapping emissions underground, Crocker said.

Exxon last year extended a joint research agreement with DAC developer Global Thermostat, intended to accelerate development of the technology for full-scale deployment. But the investment falls shy of U.S. oil producer Occidental, which has made a final investment decision on what it says could be the first of about 100 DAC plants throughout the country.

DAC “would link very closely to our CCS business where we are going to have large geologic storage and the capability to capture CO2,” Crocker said. “That’s one component of reducing the cost of direct air capture.”

Exxon’s energy transition strategy is focused on reducing carbon emissions from its business and CCS, rather than investing in renewable energy sources like solar and wind. It is also investing in hydrogen and biofuels.

Limiting its own emissions and CCS take up the majority of the $17 billion allocated for Exxon’s Low Carbon business through 2022-2027.

Exxon has no plans to invest in building electric vehicle charging stations because it is not an area in which the company can bring significant competitive advantage, Crocker said.

“If we were building them we wouldn’t be able to bring our unique capabilities into that space,” he said.

A number of European oil majors have invested in electric vehicle charging stations as part of their energy transition strategy, and a Deloitte study released last week showed investors would like to see more spending on such technologies.

Additional reporting by Sabrina Valle in Houston; Editing by David Gregorio