Digital Innovation

Applying digital technologies to drive energy innovation

For more than 140 years, ExxonMobil has harnessed new technologies to better provide energy for the world. That effort continues with a growing focus on digital technology.

We’re using high-performance computing, advanced data analytics, and increased connectivity to transform how we work at every level of our operations and enhance the way we interact with customers. From Internet of Things (IoT) projects that make our refineries more efficient, to state-of-the art digital tools that help support production and detect methane emissions from our operations, ExxonMobil is leveraging our global scale to turn data into unique insights that drive improved reliability and performance. We’re also enhancing our customers’ experience at the pump by offering mobile apps for payment options, customer loyalty programs, and comprehensive car maintenance experiences. We’ve adopted a digital mindset across the company, enabling greater agility, speed, and value without sacrificing discipline and rigor. Meanwhile, we’ve launched exciting collaborations with digital leaders such as Microsoft, IBM, and Intel that allow us to push into new areas – like quantum computing – to help tackle modern energy challenges. Read on for details on digital innovation projects currently underway.

Exxonmobil's role

Searching for new energy solutions

Advanced computing and data analysis underpin a lot of our research into new energy technologies, including algae biofuels. We augment our in-house resources, which include high performance computer clusters and a staff of data scientists, with partnerships that open up even more opportunity for innovation. For example, in 2019 we signed a potentially pathbreaking agreement with IBM in the field of quantum computing. According to Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development (pictured opposite), this ambitious collaboration aims to provide us with capabilities ‘‘to simulate nature and chemistry that we've never had before.’’

ExxonMobil maintains a fundamental research and development program unmatched in the energy industry. Our goal is to search for new energy solutions that can help us tackle the dual challenge of meeting the world’s growing energy needs while minimizing environmental impacts.

Digital Initiative

Autonomous drilling

ExxonMobil is the first in our industry to leverage autonomous drilling in deep water. We developed a proprietary drilling advisory system, currently being used in our Guyana operations, that leverages artificial intelligence to determine the ideal parameters for drilling. It also allows for closed-loop automation, which controls the drilling process without human intervention.

Combining more than a century of drilling experience into an automated system to maximize rates of penetration while minimizing technical issues provides multiple benefits for our operations. First, this technology improves drilling safety and efficiency through consistent, repeatable operations. Second, it eliminates repetitive tasks for rig personnel, allowing them to focus on other work. 

Digital Initiative

Big Data in the oilfield

ExxonMobil is collaborating with Microsoft to use IoT technologies in our operations in the Permian Basin to monitor and optimize a vast number of widely dispersed field assets. Data is collected from an extensive network of sensors and stored in the cloud, allowing our engineers, scientists, and analysts seamless, real-time access from anywhere. The insights we glean from this data are used to enable performance optimization and workflow automation. Over the course of a field’s life this can lower costs, increase production, and reduce methane emissions.

Using advanced digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to make our Permian operations more efficient is a first step as we move towards closed-loop automation, a process that allows systems to recognize and respond to events without human intervention.

energy innovation

Smart technologies for a smart refinery

From voice recognition to machine learning, ExxonMobil’s chemical and refining plants are installing a number of “smart technology upgrades” targeted at reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency.
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Digital Initiative

Digital operations

ExxonMobil has rolled out an industry-leading IoT project that enables us to collect all operating data from our refineries and chemical plants — over 6 trillion individual data points — into a high performance computing environment “data lake.” By applying advanced analytics to this data, we can unlock new ways for our sites to run more efficiently and at higher reliability, while potentially reducing emissions.
Digital Initiative

Consumer applications

New digital solutions are transforming the experience we provide to our customers, from lubricant analysis to pay-at-the-pump mobile applications to digitally enabled car maintenance offerings.

ExxonMobil is collaborating with IBM, Amazon and other digital leaders to offer consumers new payment options at Exxon- and Mobil-branded service stations in the U.S., including ‘Alexa, pay for gas.’  This digital technology, leveraging your vehicle’s Alexa-enabled device or the Alexa app, provides a new contactless method of payment for our retail consumers with potential to reach over 60 million US households that leverage Alexa in their home and on the go.  

ExxonMobil is also working with technology companies to develop digital platforms bringing suppliers together with customers and consumers to provide a superior mobility experience. ExxonMobil is teaming up with Tencent, Tuhu, and a distribution holding company to establish an car maintenance experience built on a digital framework. The joint venture will grow the Mobil 1 car care network in China and leverage the strength of all the partners to provide a high-quality, digitally enabled, comprehensive car maintenance experience.

Digital Initiative

Innovation finds home in the digital garage

From search engine giants to sophisticated computer manufacturers, some of the biggest names in the tech industry are known for their humble beginnings – a makeshift workspace in a garage. And, some of ExxonMobil’s greatest emerging technologies also start in its “digital garage,” though the workspace there is cutting-edge, rather than makeshift.

More on research and innovation

Developing lower-emission solutions through research and development

Key takeaways:

  • Our European R&D hub is helping drive lower-emission alternatives, from recycling innovations to sustainable aviation fuel.
  • Scientists at our European Technology Center (ETC) are helping create a new type of multi-layer plastic packaging, where more than 50% can be recycled.
  • We’ve also developed a proprietary technology at the ETC– to make sustainable aviation fuel from renewable methanol.
ExxonMobil’s R&D in numbers ExxonMobil is investing in research and development to find lower-emission energy solutions. We’ve put together a few numbers to give you a sense of the scale of our work.
Engineering solutions to the plastic waste challenge When people ask me what I do, I usually give the easy answer: “I’m an engineer.” What that really means is my work is about finding solutions. We engineers use our technical expertise to enhance products and processes, develop novel technologies and try to find solutions to complex challenges.
Solving the dual challenge: It takes patience and passion ExxonMobil’s role in helping society meet the dual challenge is to supply the affordable and reliable energy the world needs while reducing environmental impacts. Doing that takes long-term research and a dedication to turning promising innovations into scalable solutions.
Pioneers of innovation: The battery that changed the world If you are reading this on a phone, tablet or laptop, you should probably thank Dr. M. Stanley Whittingham. In the 1970s Dr. Whittingham was working at ExxonMobil’s Clinton, New Jersey, corporate research lab when he created the very first examples of a radical new technology: the rechargeable lithium-ion battery.