Exxon CEO spends 10 minutes of speech on emission cuts. Saves $20B investment story for the endPhotographed by Femke Perlot-Hoogeveen

ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil companies, is not famous for being a pioneer in tackling the climate change or investing in renewable energy sources.

To remind, when asked about Exxon’s potential renewables investments a few years back, Exxon’s then CEO, now Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, waved off the idea laughingly said the company didn’t want to waste money on purpose.

However, Darren Woods, the recently appointed CEO from within the company’s ranks, speaking at the Ceraweek event in Houston on Monday, set aside a considerable amount of his keynote speech presenting Exxon’s activities focused on the reduction of environmental footprint. He also, unlike his predecessor, acknowledged alternative sources of energy as important.

“We’ve seen progress not just in oil and natural gas, but also in the development of other energy sources like wind and solar.

The growth in alternative energy is important. The world needs options for all economic energy sources to meet the needs of growing population and expanding prosperity.”

Woods also repeatedly highlighted the importance of technology and innovation that can help reduce emissions. In support of this, he listed several Exxon’s efforts such as investment in a research to create biofuels from algeae, carbon capture and storage, advanced plastics for food preservation, cogeneration, the process of reverse osmosis converts oil or natural gas to higher value fuels an chemicals.

“If we can scale it this breakthrough could reduce global carbon dioxide emissions up to 45 million tons annually,” Woods said.

He also spoke about new systems to recover gas that would otherwise be flared, specialized cameras to detect fugitive emissions, so that they can be stopped, and advanced burners to minimize emissions.

These applied technologies are good for the environment and are good for business.

However, after a ten minutes speech on the emission cuts using technology and innovation, Woods then revealed a bombshell even the U.S. president was quick to tweet about.

Namely, the ExxonMobil CEO announced that Exxon would create tens of thousands of jobs by investing some $20 billion dollars into its Grow in the Gulf program, expanding its manufacturing operations along the Texas and Louisiana coat to capitalize on domestic shale revolution.

“All told, Grow in the Gulf will represent 20 billion dollars in investment over ten years in eleven different projects,” Woods said.

Exxon’s subsequent release said the move entails strategic investments in new refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the U.S. Gulf Coast region to expand its manufacturing and export capacity. The company’s Growing the Gulf expansion program, consists of 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects at proposed new and existing facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

“Grow in the Gulf is about more than increased manufacturing capacity tough. It’s also about increased exports. These projects are export machines, generating products that fast growing nations need to support larger populations and larger standards of living,” Woods said.

“These overseas markets underpin our investment. The supply is here, the demand is there, we want to keep connecting those dots.”

Woods also said that the project would create some 45.000 jobs, with many of them high paying ones ($100.000 per year).

They will also have a multiplier effect, creating many more jobs in the community, he added.

ExxonMobil is building a manufacturing powerhouse along the u.s. gulf coast. As we look forward our opportunity to grow is also our responsibility.

“The world’s energy industry is the engine of the world’s economy. We help make the world work. As populations grow, and with them dreams of a better future, it is our job to make those dreams a reality, by continuing to produce energy, reduce emissions, and deliver growth,” Woods concluded his keynote presentation.

As mentioned before, Donald Trump immediately tweeted about Exxon’s investment.

Actually, not just did he tweet, he tweeted four times, recorded a video attributing part of the responsibility to his administration and even launched a press release through the White House website, congratulating “special company, special people” Exxon on the move.

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