ARKANSAS, Nov 12 (Future Headlines)- Exxon Mobil is gearing up to unveil its lithium strategy with a significant announcement that signals the oil major’s entry into the electric vehicle (EV) battery metal production. The move comes at a time when emerging technologies are revolutionizing global lithium production, and Exxon aims to tap into this market by commencing lithium production in Arkansas by 2026. The venture, known as “Project Evergreen,” is a collaboration with Tetra Technologies, marking Exxon’s strategic pivot toward lithium in response to the surging demand for electric vehicles.
Exxon intends to begin lithium production in Arkansas, targeting an annual output of at least 10,000 metric tons by 2026. The initiative aligns with emerging technologies extracting lithium from brine deposits, a key component for battery makers catering to the growing EV market.
Exxon’s collaboration with Tetra Technologies focuses on the development of lithium-rich acres in Arkansas, covering over 6,100 acres. The partnership aims to leverage Tetra’s expertise in chemical production for water treatment and recycling.
Exxon has conducted extensive exploration in the Smackover Formation in Arkansas, a geological region abundant in lithium- and bromine-rich brine. The company has been drilling wells and testing direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology, a crucial aspect of commercial operations.
The initial production goal of 10,000 metric tons is approximately equivalent to the amount required for producing 100,000 EV batteries. Exxon’s entry into lithium production represents a strategic shift, offering the prospect of a new revenue stream with minimal added cost.
Exxon CEO Darren Woods expressed optimism about the lithium sector, emphasizing the “fairly promising” nature of the industry. Woods highlighted the opportunity for Exxon to leverage its strengths and capabilities in entering the lithium market.
Exxon, like other oil companies, has faced pressures to reduce carbon emissions from its operations. Shareholder pressures, including from Engine No. 1, have influenced Exxon’s exploration of DLE technology as a more environmentally sustainable approach.
Exxon has been testing various DLE technologies without disclosing the specific technology it has chosen. The company has engaged in talks with International Battery Metals and EnergySource Minerals for potential licensing of DLE technology.
Apart from the Tetra partnership, Exxon controls over 100,000 acres in Arkansas, acquired from Galvanic Energy, with plans to commence lithium production by 2027. The additional acreage underscores Exxon’s commitment to establishing itself as a significant player in the lithium market.
Exxon, like other companies aiming to produce lithium in Arkansas, faces regulatory challenges related to the absence of a royalty structure for lithium, unlike bromine. The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission plans to hold hearings to address this regulatory gap.
Exxon’s venture into lithium production in Arkansas aligns with industry trends, with other companies such as Albemarle and Standard Lithium also targeting lithium extraction in the region.
Exxon plans to send at least six representatives to the Benchmark Minerals conference in Los Angeles, marking the company’s first attendance at a major critical minerals conference. The attendance signifies Exxon’s strategic commitment to engaging with industry stakeholders and staying abreast of critical developments.
Reporting by Alireza Sabet; Editing by Sarah White