Report April 2, 2019
Technology has led to the development of industry-advantaged assets, processes, products, and applications. We invest in fundamental science and research, leading to advances in existing processes and products, as well as new discoveries. This allows us to meet the evolving needs of society, lower operating and project costs, and develop higher-value processes and products.
Report April 2, 2019
Managing subsurface uncertainty
Capabilities in subsurface definition and development in the Upstream enable us to find more oil and natural gas and maximize recovery from existing reservoirs. Interpreting subsurface data and integrating multiple geologic features is highly complex and begins with fully leveraging the value of seismic data. Full Wavefield Inversion technology harnesses complex algorithms and exploits the power of high-performance computing. As a result, we are better able to understand the rock properties of each geologic layer.
Additionally, a suite of proprietary, automated pattern-recognition algorithms provides us with the ability to rapidly scan large 3D seismic surveys and identify direct hydrocarbon indicators. The application of this technology, combined with the use of integrated reservoir modeling and simulation technologies, leads to a rich picture of the subsurface. This enables geoscientists and engineers to make informed investment decisions by efficiently predicting reservoir performance throughout the life of an asset.
The result of these subsurface technologies is an ability to identify potential oil and natural gas deposits below the surface and optimize investments in key growth areas like Guyana, the Permian, and Brazil.
Upgrading product portfolio
Technology enables us to upgrade and expand product offerings in our Downstream and Chemical businesses, with the objective of making more of the higher-performing, higher-value products the market and consumers demand. Decades of experience in developing catalyst and process technology result in projects like the Rotterdam advanced hydrocracker, which started up at the end of 2018. This advantaged project deploys advanced catalysts within unique process configurations to produce Group II lube basestocks and ultra-low-sulfur fuels at a lower cost. The Rotterdam site profitability is expected to double as a result of the investment.
We will apply similar technology at our Singapore petrochemical facility, with a planned future project to upgrade high-sulfur residual streams into Group II lube basestocks and low-sulfur fuels.
In addition, we are deploying new products, including premium transportation fuels and lubricants that provide higher levels of efficiency and new performance chemical products that enable low-cost, lighter-weight automotive parts.
ExxonMobil continues a legacy of technology breakthroughs
ExxonMobil has a proven track record of discovering, developing, and commercializing advantaged technology at scale. The company’s history of innovations includes more-durable tires, 3D seismic imaging, and extended-mileage lubricants. With consistent and ongoing investments in technology, we seek to improve efficiency, promote enhanced resource recovery and product margins, and identify next-generation opportunities.
Investing to capture growth in demand of lower-carbon solutions
We are investing in research to develop scalable and affordable technologies to meet the growing demand for lower-emission fuels, identify economic carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) solutions, and reduce the intensity of existing manufacturing processes.
The company made significant progress in 2018 on an algae biofuels program with partner Synthetic Genomics, Inc., and on cellulosic biofuels with partner Renewable Energy Group. Successes included initiation of outdoor algae pond experimentation and a substantial improvement in the bioconversion of cellulose-derived sugars from wood, grass, and agricultural waste into biodiesel. We also continued efforts to develop scalable and economically viable carbon capture and storage. Research and development in this area focused on our partnership with FuelCell Energy, Inc. and the potential to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) while also generating power using a fuel cell. We also progressed efforts to identify new materials for CO2 capture and assess multiple new CO2 utilization and storage options.
Another area of ongoing research involves developing low-energy membrane and adsorption technologies that could replace the energy-intensive separation processes that exist today.