Mar 19, 2024 - Technology

Exclusive: Exxon CEO says company is "keeping a very close eye" on geothermal

Photo illustration of Exxon CEO, Darren Woods, with abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

HOUSTON — Exxon boss Darren Woods is watching progression of geothermal technology as the oil and gas giant mulls adding more low-carbon areas to its portfolio.

Why it matters: Woods spoke exclusively to Axios in a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston. His remarks are a window into how the powerful company views energy diversification.

The big picture: Woods said there are many technical challenges and cost hurdles, and Exxon isn't "actively pursuing" geothermal at the moment. But he added:

  • "We're keeping a very close eye on it, recognizing there is a very strong alignment and synergies with what we already know how to do."
  • It's "something that you could see in the future if we found...the right economics and an advantage that we could bring."

Catch up quick: Exxon has long said its transition strategy must be consistent with its core skills.

  • Carbon capture, lithium, hydrogen and biofuels are its main areas.

Yes, but: Fossil fuels comprise the dominant share of investment by Exxon and the industry.

  • Meanwhile, execs at CERAWeek pushed back against the idea of a rapid transition from fossil fuels.

Inside the room: Among Woods' thoughts on other key areas:

⚠️ Guyana. The CEO doesn't expect Venezuela's territorial dispute with Guyana will jeopardize Exxon's development of giant offshore oilfields there.

  • He tells Axios multi-stakeholder efforts to ease tension "gives us confidence" that it will be "managed and contained, and won't have a material impact on what we're doing."
  • Woods, in separate remarks and interviews, also dished on its dispute with Chevron over Hess Corp.'s Guyana holdings.

🖥️ Mixed views on AI. Exxon's internal tech unit is exploring AI's applicability to their business and use cases for taking advantage of it, he says.

  • But Woods added: "My sense, like all these things, is today it's probably overhyped when people think that this is going to solve all the problems."
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