Exxon News – 2008

News summaries from company press releases and from unaffiliated news agencies are provided below. The summaries are sorted by month and are further categorized as upstream news, downstream news, and business/finance news.

oilprimer.com makes no claim as to the authenticity of the information posted here, but provides it as a courtesy to our visitors. The information provided on this page was obtained from company-provided press releases and the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and is believed to be reliable, but we do not guarantee its accuracy. Neither the information, nor any opinion expressed, constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any stock or option or any claim of authenticity. You are encouraged to contact the relevant corporations and news agencies for the most accurate information.


• Upstream news:


- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) announced that its subsidiary, Esso Exploration Angola (Block 15) Limited (Esso Angola), has started production from the Kizomba C development, designed to develop 600 million barrels of oil from the Mondo, Saxi and Batuque fields in approximately 2,400 feet (800 meters) of water more than 90 miles (145 kilometers) off the coast of Angola. The Kizomba C Development has come on stream with the Mondo field. Saxi and Batuque are expected to come on stream in 2008. Mondo production is anticipated to plateau at a peak rate of 100,000 barrels a day, and plateau production from the three fields (Mondo, Saxi and Batuque) is anticipated to reach a total of 200,000 barrels a day. The Kizomba C development includes two floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessels and 36 subsea wells making it the largest subsea development operated by ExxonMobil affiliates worldwide. This is another good example of ExxonMobil’s project management capabilities delivering superior results. ExxonMobil’s “design one, build multiple” strategy resulted in the Kizomba C Mondo FPSO being completed in record time of 23 months from the project approval to first oil.

• Downstream news:

- ExxonMobil Aviation Lubricants announced that three of its jet oils are approved to the new specification for aero and aero-derived gas turbine engine lubricants endorsed by civil aviation authorities. Mobil Jet Oil 387 joins Mobil Jet Oil II and Mobil Jet Oil 254 on the Qualified Products List (QPL) of SAE International, the world’s largest aerospace standards development organization.

- ExxonMobil Chemical announced the completion and start-up of a new $20 million compounding facility to supply high-performance polymers to the automotive, appliance and specialty consumer products industries. The world-class facility, located at ExxonMobil's integrated Baton Rouge complex, has an initial annual capacity of 40,000 tons of specialty compounded products. The facility was designed for flexible and efficient production of high quality and consistent products. It will manufacture a broad spectrum of products including Exxtral™ thermoplastic olefins and Santoprene™ thermoplastic compounds for interior, exterior and under-the-hood automotive applications, and other specialty materials for appliance, packaging, personal care, construction, and electrical end uses.

- ExxonMobil Chemical announced that its new battery film technology will be an integral part of Electrovaya’s new all electric vehicles. ExxonMobil’s battery separator films significantly enhance the power, safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries, thereby helping speed the adoption of these smaller and lighter batteries into the next wave of lower-emission vehicles.

- ExxonMobil Chemical has introduced new grades of Santoprene™ thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs) that bond with nylon in cold insert over-molding applications. The new B500 grade family, which is colorable or black, has been developed for applications that require a very strong bond with nylon and high temperature resistance, such as power tools, kitchen tools, automotive applications, furniture and sporting goods. Exhibiting high bond retention values, the new grades enable the design and manufacture of nylon parts coupled with the quality performance properties of a TPV. These properties include long-term sealability; a durable slip resistant feel; excellent compression set; chemical, oil and heat resistance; and enhanced bond integrity to extend product life.

• Business/Finance news: ­

- ExxonMobil’s Chief Polymer Scientist, Dr. Pat Brant, spoke at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event in Washington, D.C. about a new technology that is expected to help speed the adoption of lithium-ion batteries in next generation hybrid and electric vehicles. Brant said ExxonMobil’s technology enhances the power, safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications.

- As an extension of its ongoing commitment to math and science education, ExxonMobil announced it is supporting three collegiate Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) open-wheel racing teams in 2008. The sponsorships will support student racing teams at Duke University, Louisiana State University (LSU) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as they compete in the Formula SAE competition.

- Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation, presented a check for $50,000 to the Lena Pope Home to support a comprehensive range of services, including family preservation, counseling, alternative education and foster care to meet the behavioral and healthcare needs of children, youth, adults and families.

- ExxonMobil will release its fourth quarter 2007 earnings on Friday, February 1, 2008. The news release will be issued over Business Wire.

- The Board of Directors of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) declared a cash dividend of 35 cents per share on the Common Stock, payable on March 10, 2008, to shareholders of record of Common Stock at the close of business on February 11, 2008.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced that its board of directors has elected Larry R. Faulkner to the board. Dr. Faulkner is the president of Houston Endowment Inc., a private philanthropy, and president emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin. With Dr. Faulkner’s election, the ExxonMobil board stands at thirteen directors, eleven of whom are non-employee directors.


• Upstream news:


- Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (NYSE:XOM) technology leadership has resulted in another world record-setting well at the Sakhalin-1 oil project in eastern Russia, enabling the production of more energy while reducing the impact on the environment. The well was drilled from land, using the world's most powerful land-based rig and employing extended-reach technology, to a target area in the oil reservoir located under the ocean about 7 miles or 11 kilometers from shore – roughly the distance of 125 U.S. football fields.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced that it replaced more than 100 percent of its production in 2007. Additions to the Corporation’s worldwide proved oil and gas reserves totaled 1.6 billion oil-equivalent barrels in 2007 or 101 percent of production. Reserves replacement totaled 132 percent excluding the effects of the expropriation of Venezuelan assets and property sales. These additions assume the pricing basis the Corporation uses to make investment decisions consistent with long-standing practice, rather than single-day, year-end pricing.

- ExxonMobil Production Company, as operator and on behalf of the other unit working interest owners, announced a new project to develop and produce hydrocarbon resources from the Point Thomson field on the Alaska North Slope. ExxonMobil submitted the plan to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. It involves evaluation, delineation and development of Point Thomson reservoirs through a phased approach to fully develop the hydrocarbon resource for the mutual benefit of Alaskans and the unit working interest owners. Production is anticipated to start by year-end 2014. The project includes an investment of approximately $1.3 billion to commence a multi-year development and delineation drilling program in the 2008-09 winter season and to construct production facilities, pipelines, and support infrastructure. Under the initial phase, approximately 200 million cubic feet per day of Point Thomson gas is expected to be produced. Approximately 10,000 barrels per day of liquid condensate that is separated from the gas is planned to be delivered for sale through new and existing oil pipelines. The remaining gas will be injected back into the Thomson Sand reservoir to maintain pressure for continued hydrocarbon recovery and for subsequent gas sales. In addition, engineering work will be completed to provide necessary information that will allow individual Point Thomson Unit owners to participate in an open season for a gas pipeline. Subsequent field development will be determined, which could include expanding the injection capacity, oil production, pursuing gas sales or a combination.

• Downstream news: ­

- ExxonMobil Chemical has commercialized a new Santoprene™ thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV) exterior weatherseal grade for automotive and construction corner moldings. Used to join ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) or TPV weatherseal profiles, Santoprene TPV B200 provides excellent adhesion, versatile aesthetics, rubbery touch and critical performance at reduced cost. Santoprene TPV B200 offers an enhanced bond to EPDM or TPV profiles for more reliable corner seals. Requiring no adhesives or mechanical interlocks, the improved adhesion of this TPV is a result of the unique interaction of the materials during cooling. The bond is designed to last the lifetime of the car over a wide range of temperatures.

- Anchored by its high-profile sponsorship of Penske Racing’s #77 Mobil 1 Dodge driven by Sam Hornish Jr., ExxonMobil is rolling out an impressive multi-faceted marketing and promotional blitz for Mobil 1 during the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) and Fairbanks Natural Gas LLC (FNG) today announced a long-term contract to supply Alaska North Slope gas to FNG customers in Interior Alaska. ExxonMobil Gas & Power Marketing Company will supply natural gas to a new liquefaction plant at Prudhoe Bay to be built and owned by Polar LNG, LLC an affiliate of Fairbanks Natural Gas. FNG will truck the LNG nearly 500 miles from the North Slope to its Fairbanks distribution system. FNG owns and operates two LNG storage and regasification facilities in Fairbanks.

- ExxonMobil announced that Mobil 1 has been selected as the factory fill motor oil for the Nissan GT-R, the newly launched high performance vehicle featuring an all-new 3.8-litre twin turbo V6 "VR38" engine. Nissan selected synthetic engine oil as the initial fill for the GT-R because of its friction reducing capabilities and high-temperature performance. Mobil 1, the world’s leading synthetic motor oil, was selected as the Nissan GT-R’s factory fill. Mobil 1 is also recommended for follow-on service fills.

• Business/Finance news: ­

- ExxonMobil's full year 2007 net income and earnings excluding special items were a record $40,610 million ($7.28 per share), reflecting strong results in all business segments.

- In support of National Engineers Week, ExxonMobil is sending its engineers into eight Fairfax County public middle schools to raise awareness of engineering career opportunities. During these “Introduction to Engineering Day” events, ExxonMobil employees will highlight career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with the goal of attracting young women and men to the engineering profession. In addition, students will learn about the ways that engineering impacts every aspect of daily life – from travel to shopping to technology to construction. Women are one of the largest underrepresented groups in engineering today, an industry that is about 90 percent male. In total, ExxonMobil engineers will visit eight local middle schools and talk to more than 1,700 seventh graders. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in interactive demonstrations and experiments.

- President Hugo Chávez said that Venezuela was not planning to halt oil exports to the United States. The statement may ease fears in energy markets over fallout from Venezuela’s legal battle with Exxon Mobil over compensation for the nationalization of a large oil project. Mr. Chávez’s conciliatory tone stands in contrast to recent comments made by him and other officials here in which they threatened to stop exporting oil to the United States. They said the Bush administration and Exxon Mobil were conspiring to wreak economic havoc in Venezuela.

- Crude oil closed above $100 a barrel for the first time, vaulting through a longstanding psychological barrier amid persistent concern about whether production can keep up with rising global demand. The day’s price rise of more than 4 percent capped a week-long run-up that began when President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela threatened to cut off oil exports to the United States over a legal struggle with Exxon Mobil. Crude oil fell from a record $100.10 a barrel in New York on speculation that a U.S. Energy Department report will show stockpiles rose for a sixth week, according to Reuters. Crude oil for March delivery dropped as much as 90 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $99.11 a barrel in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

- Former U.S. Astronaut Bernard Harris will give students and teachers in San Antonio a first-hand experience with the wonders of science, technology, engineering and mathematics when The Dream Tour, presented by ExxonMobil, makes its first stop on February 19 at Bernard C. Harris Middle School. The tour is designed to help today’s middle school students reach their potential through the power of strong math and science programs and provide improved tools for teachers to deliver more engaging classroom activities. The program will include an interactive and inspirational program by Harris, a demonstration on flight and engaging dialogue about achieving goals. Additionally, an interactive Web site, enhanced curricula and scholarships will be offered as part of the tour.

- ExxonMobil Foundation announced its support for the launch in Nigeria of the NetsforLife program to fight malaria. Long-lasting insecticide-treated nets will be distributed to Nigerian communities with a high prevalence of reported malaria cases. The expansion of the NetsforLife program in Nigeria comes one year after ExxonMobil helped launch the program in Angola.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced the board of directors has appointed Mr. R. M. (Rich) Kruger as president, ExxonMobil Production Company and elected him as a vice president of the corporation effective April 1, 2008, succeeding Mr. M. E. (Morris) Foster, who will retire on March 31, 2008, after more than 42 years of service. Mr. Kruger, 48, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston.

- As someone who believes that Ralph Nader helped nudge George W. Bush to victory in 2000, I find it particularly ironic that Ralph Nader has announced his candidacy for the presidency the same week that the Supreme Court is hearing the Exxon Valdez case. Exxon Mobil (whose profits were over $40.6 billion last year) will try to convince the court that it should not pay punitive damages to Alaskans whose livelihoods were destroyed when the tanker struck a reef. This court has been moved far to the right by President Bush's appointments of Justice Samuel A. Alito (who has recused himself from the case because he owns Exxon stock) and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. It is a court that has shown a clear preference for corporate rights over worker and consumer rights. The judicial branch has huge influence over the issues that Mr. Nader has identified as key concerns. One could speculate that the court would be much more sympathetic to those concerns had Al Gore been the one making the appointments. It may be that Mr. Nader has actually hurt the causes he claims to support. Jonathan M. Rosen.

- Lawyers for the Alaska Native coastal village of Kivalina, which is being forced to relocate because of flooding caused by the changing Arctic climate, filed suit in federal court here arguing that 5 oil companies, 14 electric utilities and the country’s largest coal company were responsible for the village’s woes. The suit is the latest effort to hold companies like BP America, Chevron, Peabody Energy, Duke Energy and the Southern Company responsible for the impact of global warming because they emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases, or, in the case of Peabody, mine and market carbon-laden coal that is burned by others. It accused the companies of creating a public nuisance. In an unusual move, those five companies and three other defendants — the Exxon Mobil Corporation, American Electric Power and the Conoco Phillips Company — are also accused of conspiracy.

- The Exxon Valdez oil spill, which caused a 3,000-square-mile oil slick and still affects Alaska’s fisheries after nearly 19 years, was a “tragedy,” Exxon’s lawyer told the Supreme Court. But the company has been punished enough by $3.4 billion in criminal fines, cleanup costs and compensation payments, the lawyer added, arguing that the $2.5 billion in punitive damages approved by a federal appeals court served no additional “public purpose.” Exxon’s appeal of the biggest punitive damage award ever upheld in federal court led to a lively Supreme Court argument in which everything was open to dispute, from the significance of a 200-year-old case about robbery on the high seas to the world of modern maritime commerce in which a 1,000-foot tanker like the Exxon Valdez is considered a separate “business unit” in the organization chart of its corporate owner. With Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. not participating, a result of his ownership of Exxon Mobil stock, the possibility of a 4-to-4 tie was clearly present. A tie would affirm the appeals court’s judgment in favor of a class of 32,000 fishermen and business owners, who stand to receive about $75,000 apiece from the $2.5 billion award. It was abundantly clear to everyone in the crowded courtroom that if the plaintiffs could just hold on to four votes, they would win the case. Their champion was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who subjected Exxon’s lawyer, Walter Dellinger, to a rapid-fire series of questions about his central arguments. Justice Ginsburg suggested at one point that the jury that heard the case would have been justified in concluding that Exxon was a “grave wrongdoer” itself, not just vicariously through the negligence of the ship’s captain, Joseph J. Hazelwood, who company officials left in charge of the ship despite having been informed that he was an alcoholic who had resumed drinking. One of Exxon’s arguments on appeal is that the Supreme Court’s precedents foreclose awarding punitive damages against a ship’s owner for the misdeeds of the captain. Mr. Dellinger told the justices that the appeals court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, “erred in overturning a maritime-law rule that has been settled for 200 years,” under which the owner can be liable only for actions that it directed, ratified or participated in. Justice Ginsburg interrupted. “How was that rule settled?” she asked. “What is the long-settled line of decisions of this court in maritime law that you are relying on?” As she undoubtedly knew, and as Mr. Dellinger, a former acting solicitor general, was obliged to concede, there was in fact only one, a case from 1818 called the Amiable Nancy, involving a robbery by a sailor on a privateer. Mr. Dellinger also invoked a later 19th-century case that shielded a railroad from liability for the actions of a conductor. “That was on land,” Justice Ginsburg observed. The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Jeffrey L. Fisher, a Stanford Law School professor, told the justices that the question of precedent was “more or less an open issue before you today.” Mr. Fisher said that “you have a smattering of a few old cases that lean in different directions.” The question of whether precedent dictated an outcome for one side or the other in this case, Exxon Shipping Company v. Baker, No. 07-219, appeared to be a draw. But that was not the only question. Mr. Dellinger got considerably more traction with his argument that federal maritime law simply did not permit an award of this size. The federal courts have considerable discretion to define the contours of maritime law, a fact that led to a more open consideration of policy than is usually the case. It was on this ground that Justice Stephen G. Breyer challenged Mr. Fisher. “This is a very dramatic accident,” Justice Breyer said. “It involves oil spills, and they cause an enormous amount of trouble. But there are accidents every day, and ships are filled with accidents.” Given that punitive damages have not been the normal rule in maritime cases, Justice Breyer continued, “then it will be a new world for the shipping industry and for those who work on the ships” if the courts begin to impose them. “What principles do you have to suggest, if any,” the justice asked Mr. Fisher, “for creating a fair system that isn’t just arbitrary?” Rigorous appellate review, to weed out “passion and prejudice,” would address that problem, Mr. Fisher said. The answer did not appear to reassure justices who seemed sympathetic to Exxon, including Anthony M. Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. At one point, when Mr. Fisher said Exxon should not benefit from a particular argument because the company had not raised it, Justice Scalia said, “They don’t have to make every tiny little argument.” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. also appeared sympathetic to Exxon. “I don’t see what more a corporation can do” to protect itself from employees who violate explicit company policy, like a no-drinking rule, he told Mr. Fisher. When the justices agreed in October to hear Exxon’s appeal, they limited their review to questions of maritime law and excluded a more general question about the constitutionality of the punitive damage award. Consequently, the eventual decision is not likely to affect punitive damages in nonmaritime cases.


• Upstream news:


- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson announced plans to invest more than $125 billion in capital spending over the next five years to deliver major projects to help meet growing world energy demand. From 2008 to 2010 alone, Mr. Tillerson said, the company expects to participate in the start up of 19 new projects which, at peak, would collectively add more than 725,000 oil-equivalent barrels per day to ExxonMobil's production. He said ExxonMobil’s commitment to developing advanced technology, its industry-leading operational and project management capabilities and exceptional employees would continue to place the company as the partner of choice for resource owners around the world.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) confirmed its subsidiary, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore) Limited, along with Providence Resources P.l.c. (Providence) and Sosina Exploration Limited (Sosina), has been awarded two additional licenses in the Porcupine Basin of the Irish Sea. The Irish Government’s Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources announced the results of their 2007 Irish Frontier Licensing Round earlier this week. The licenses are located in water depths exceeding 6,500 feet, and together comprise 13 blocks and an area totalling 760,000 acres. A number of potential leads have been identified across the two licenses including a prospect known as Drombeg. The new awards bring ExxonMobil’s Porcupine Basin interests to 18 exploration blocks plus an option for an additional 15 blocks, giving the company and its coventurers an expanded exploration position in the basin. ExxonMobil has been awarded operatorship of the two new license areas and will apply its global leadership geoscience and deepwater drilling capability to these Irish operations.

- ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc., a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), and the Malaysian national oil company, PETRONAS, will continue to work together to help ensure sustainable energy supplies for Malaysia under a planned new 25-year production sharing contract. At the signing ceremony for the main principles agreement for the new contract, Mark Albers, senior vice president, Exxon Mobil Corporation, said, "We are proud of our partnership and collaboration with PETRONAS that have allowed us to develop and deliver energy supplies to help meet growing Malaysian and international energy needs.

• Downstream news:


- In recognition of its longstanding collaboration with one of the world’s most storied high performance automobiles, ExxonMobil is proud to announce the 15th anniversary of the relationship between the company’s flagship Mobil 1 synthetic engine oil and Corvette. Since 1992, Mobil 1 has been the factory and service fill lubricant for all Corvettes manufactured by General Motors. During this time, more than 490,000 Corvette vehicles have left the production line filled with Mobil 1 engine oil.

- With the help of Cadillac, ExxonMobil is giving Kenneth Pugh of Booneville, Mississippi, the “High Performance Experience” of a lifetime. As the grand prize winner of the “Mobil 1 High Performance Experience” promotion, Pugh won a thrilling weekend at the upcoming Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race, as well as a fully loaded 2007 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan.

- ExxonMobil Chemical Company has introduced a new metallocene polyethylene (mPE) platform, Enable™ mPE, to help converters enhance their extrusion operations while providing excellent film performance. Enable mPE can help converters: achieve more stable operations, extend film line output, simplify resin sourcing and generate downgauged films. A single unique resin, Enable mPE offers an unprecedented combination of film processing and higher alpha olefin performance benefits for a range of flexible film solutions including collation shrink, pallet shrink, cast stretch handwrap, agricultural greenhouse films, heavy duty bags and lamination film applications.

- ExxonMobil Chemical will present its broad portfolio of specialty elastomers for wire and cable applications at Chinaplas 2008 Hall W2 W2B31. Vistalon™ EPDM* rubber, Exact™ plastomers and Santoprene™ thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs) can improve flexibility in polyolefin-based compositions. In addition, these specialty elastomers are cost competitive and all are available in pellet form for easier processing. They are all compliant with the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives, and a wide range of the grades are Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved.

• Business/Finance news:


- As I was sitting at my majestic TV in a majestic suite at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami a couple of weeks ago, going over notes for a speech the next morning and waiting for Crockett and Tubbs to speed by, chasing drug kingpins in their “Miami Vice” motorboat, I watched Barack Obama speak in Madison, Wis. As usual, Senator Obama gave a fine oration, with thunderous applause from the audience as his reward. But then I was beguiled by a series of gifts he was going to give the American people (of course, with their own money): universal health care, antipoverty programs, large grants to college students in return for community service (a darned good idea) and other goodies. Then he talked about the country’s energy policy and how he planned to change our dependence on oil. And he took aim at Exxon Mobil, which had almost $12 billion in earnings last quarter, and said that good old Exxon Mobil wouldn’t part easily with its profits. Now, I know it’s primary season. I know Democratic candidates have to make obeisance to the populist, antibusiness wing of their party, just as the Republican front-runner, Senator John McCain, has to make bows and curtsies to the supply-side part of his (and my) party. But Mr. Obama’s comments about Exxon Mobil are, as folks used to say, fightin’ words. Mr. Obama is clearly an intelligent man. So it may not be too early to start a small process of education about Exxon Mobil and other oil companies and why attacking them is not smart. First, Exxon Mobil, like all the other gigantic integrated energy companies in this country, is owned not by a cabal of reactionary businessmen holding clandestine meetings in a lodge in the Texas scrublands (as Oliver Stone so brilliantly illustrated in “Nixon”). Exxon Mobil, in fact, is owned mostly by ordinary Americans. Mutual funds, index funds and pension funds (including union pension funds) own about 52 percent of Exxon Mobil’s shares. Individual shareholders, about two million or so, own almost all the rest. The pooh-bahs who run Exxon own less than 1 percent of the company. When Exxon Mobil earns almost $12 billion in a quarter, or $41 billion in a year, as it did in 2007, that money does not go into the coffers of a few billionaire executives quaffing Champagne in Texas. It goes into the pension and retirement accounts of ordinary citizens. When Exxon pays a dividend, that money goes to pay for the mortgages and oxygen tanks and in-home care of lots of elderly Americans. So, Mr. Obama, which union pension plans — and which blue-collar workers who benefit from them — will be among the first you would like to deprive of the income that flows from Exxon’s rich dividends?

- Venezuela and the Italian oil company Eni have agreed to spend $10 billion to develop a large oil field in the prolific Orinoco Belt, site of Venezuela’s heavy oil deposits. The joint-venture agreement, which was signed in Caracas, comes a week after Eni and Venezuela’s oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, known as Pdvsa, ended their disagreement over the 2006 nationalization of another oil field called Dación. The Italian company agreed to $700 million compensation, a much lower figure than it had originally sought. The deal shows that despite a strongly nationalistic approach to its energy resources, Venezuela’s government is able to attract foreign investors to develop its large deposits of heavy oil. For the last two years, Venezuela’s government has sought to gain a majority stake in its oil ventures with international companies. Most have agreed to the government’s new terms, becoming minority partners and paying higher taxes, recognizing that they have few alternatives. One company, Exxon Mobil, has adopted the most aggressive approach, opting to shut down much of its operations last year, and seeking higher compensation from the government. Exxon recently won a court order freezing up to $12 billion in Venezuelan assets. For Eni, the agreement is a small coup that allows it to enter a country with vast unconventional oil reserves. The Orinoco Belt is estimated to hold about 240 billion barrels of extractable heavy oil, nearly as much as Saudi Arabia’s proven deposits. The oil from the Orinoco, however, is more costly to extract than conventional oil and is harder to refine.

- Volunteer Houston and ExxonMobil announced that 65 local nonprofit agencies have been selected to participate in the 2008 ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. College students wanting meaningful summer internships can now apply for paid internship positions that offer both practical experience and insight into the value and importance of nonprofit work.

- In a setback for Exxon Mobil, a freeze on $12 billion in assets belonging to Venezuela's state oil company was overturned by a British court.

- The Iraqi government is negotiating with American and European oil companies to manage the development of five new fields in northern and southern Iraq, an Oil Ministry official said. Iraq hopes to reach agreements that will help it reach its goal of increasing crude oil production — now 2.3 million barrels a day — by 500,000 barrels a day, said Asim Jihad, a spokesman for the Oil Ministry. The oil minister, Hussain al-Sharistani, is in Vienna for a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and did not respond to requests for an interview. Iraq once had one of the region’s strongest agricultural and industrial economies. But United Nations sanctions and years of war with Iran destroyed much of its economic base, leaving the nation heavily dependent on petrodollars. Hobbled by armed conflict, mismanagement and neglect, Iraq produces less oil than Saudi Arabia (more than nine million barrels a day) or Iran (nearly four million barrels a day), and far less than its potential capacity. Mr. Jihad said Iraq hoped to produce six million barrels of crude a day by 2015. He declined to identify the companies invited to bid on the technical service contracts because the deals have not been completed. But in previous interviews Iraqi officials have described meetings in February with executives from Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total SA. Mr. Jihad said Iraqi officials selected specific companies for their knowledge of Iraq’s oil fields and their expertise in managing large development projects. The negotiations are in their second round, he said, and would probably be completed by the end of this month.

- Former U.S. astronaut Bernard Harris and the ExxonMobil Foundation announced an expansion of the annual ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camps, which will enable more middle school students to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Twenty-five two-week residential camps will run from June through August and involve 1,200 students from across the country. The 2007 program involved 20 camps hosting more than 900 students from 547 schools located throughout 12 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, about 75 teachers received professional development for their efforts to support the camps.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced that the company's board of directors expects to elect Mr. M. J. (Michael) Dolan as senior vice president of the corporation, effective April 1, 2008. Mr. Dolan, 54, currently president, ExxonMobil Chemical Company (EMCC), will be a member of the corporation's Management Committee.

- Exxon Mobil suffered a setback in its dispute with Venezuela when a British court overturned an earlier ruling that froze as much as $12 billion in petroleum assets controlled by the government of President Hugo Chávez. The British court overturned an injunction won by Exxon in January to keep Venezuela from moving any assets of its national oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, out of reach of an international arbitration commission that is dealing with claims against Mr. Chávez’s nationalization of an oil field last year. Judge Paul Walker said the injunction should be reversed because Petróleos de Venezuela does not directly own any assets in Britain and thus the dispute was not connected to Britain. Petróleos de Venezuela had argued that Britain lacked jurisdiction in the case. Exxon, the world’s largest oil company, said similar injunctions it had won in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles for assets worth up to $12 billion would remain in place. A ruling by a United States court last month that froze as much as $315 million that Petróleos de Venezuela would have gained in a bond buyback would also remain, Exxon said. The freeze had prompted Mr. Chávez to threaten last month that he would halt oil exports to the United States or raise taxes on foreign oil companies. The dispute had also raised concerns among some investors over the financial health of Petróleos de Venezuela, which controls the largest oil reserves in South America. Venezuela supplies about 1.25 million barrels of crude oil a day to the United States, ranking as the country’s third-largest supplier behind Canada at No. 1 and Saudi Arabia, according to the Energy Department. Petróleos de Venezuela is the government’s largest single source of export revenue, financing a range of social welfare projects and foreign aid. Mr. Chávez last year seized control of Venezuela’s last remaining oil projects operated by large American and European energy companies as part of his efforts to assert greater power over the country’s oil industry. Venezuela allowed the private companies to remain as minority partners, but disputes continued over compensation for the loss of their assets. Exxon adopted the most aggressive approach of any international oil giant in its dealings with Venezuela and shut down much of its Venezuelan operations last year. Other companies like Chevron, BP and StatoilHydro of Norway continue to operate in the country. Exxon contended that Petróleos de Venezuela had agreed to compensate Exxon if the government decided to expropriate Exxon’s part of a joint venture set up in the 1990s in the Orinoco oil region.

- The ExxonMobil Foundation and the Volunteer Center of North Texas have announced which 75 Dallas-area nonprofits will receive grants for summer interns as part of the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program (CSJP). The selected agencies are now accepting applications from college undergraduate students interested in a unique summer internship in the nonprofit sector. In its 18th year locally and 37th year nationwide, the summer internship program offers undergraduates the opportunity to earn a salary while receiving hands-on work experience, serving the community and benefiting from professional development activities. In turn, the agencies mentor aspiring young professionals and receive needed assistance during the busy summer months.

- So the Supreme Court seems poised to reduce the punitive-damage award in the Exxon Valdez case at the same time that regulatory agencies are being starved for funds or, worse, run by people whose prime concern seems to be protecting business from expensive regulations.


• Upstream news:

- ­Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced that its affiliate Esso Exploration International Limited signed a production and development agreement with Falcon Oil and Gas Ltd. and its subsidiary, TXM Exploration and Production LLC, to begin a phased work program on a production license in the Mako Trough of southeast Hungary. The agreement covers a Contract Area of approximately 184,300 acres representing 75 percent of the license. ExxonMobil will have a 67 percent interest in the Contract Area and is the operator. TXM retains 33 percent of the Contract Area and 100 percent of the remaining license outside the Contract Area. Under the terms of the agreement, ExxonMobil will conduct an initial work program to test existing wellbores and/or drill additional wells if needed to evaluate commercial production of unconventional gas and liquid hydrocarbons. ExxonMobil will invest $75 million in this initial phase, scheduled to begin this year. After the initial work program, the agreement includes options for ExxonMobil to elect to follow with appraisal and development programs.

- ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Hungary Limited (ExxonMobil), a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation NYSE:XOM), and MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas Plc. (MOL) announced an agreement to start a joint exploration program in blocks 106 and 107 in the Mako Trough in southeast Hungary. ExxonMobil will fund the work program and receive a 50 percent interest in the acreage upon completion. MOL will retain the remaining 50 percent. The exploration program covers 387,000 acres with wells drilled to depths of approximately 14,000 feet (4,300 meters). The comprehensive work program includes drilling and completion of wells using ExxonMobil proprietary technology and expertise.

• Downstream news:

- ExxonMobil announced the national launch of Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy, a synthetic motor oil that could save consumers fuel and benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If just one-third of U.S. motorists reduced their gasoline consumption by 2 percent, almost 1 billion gallons of gasoline and 8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions would be saved every year. This would be equivalent to taking around 1.5 million cars off the road. With significant expansion in distribution, Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy is now being made available to consumers across the U.S. in major auto and retail outlets.

- ExxonMobil announced that Mobil 1, the world's leading synthetic motor oil, has been selected by smart USA Distributor LLC (“smart USA”), a subsidiary of Penske Automotive Group, Inc., as the recommended service-fill oil for maintenance in the smart fortwo. The smart fortwo is manufactured by Mercedes-Benz Cars and is a Daimler brand. This technologically advanced vehicle achieves 40 plus mpg on the highway and is an ultra-low emissions vehicle, as certified by the State of California Air Resources Board. The vehicle is 8.8 feet long, 5.1 feet tall and 5.1 feet wide and comes equipped with many functional and safety features found in most luxury models.

- ExxonMobil Chemical announced it will have its biggest ever presence at Chinaplas 2008. The company will showcase its products and technology at Booth B31, Hall W2 at Shanghai New International Expo Centre in Shanghai from April 17-20, 2008. ExxonMobil Chemical will demonstrate its global leadership and commitment to nonwovens technology at booth 2115 in Hall 2 at INDEX 08 in Geneva from April 15-18, 2008. On display will be ExxonMobil Chemical’s portfolio of Vistamaxx™ specialty elastomers and its polypropylene (PP) solutions for nonwoven applications. Since the launch at INDEX 05, Vistamaxx specialty elastomers continue to accelerate into nonwoven applications and, in particular, hygiene absorbent products (HAP) such as diapers. To support this growth, as well as increased demand for PP, ExxonMobil Chemical announced in September 2007 that it will proceed with a second world-scale steam cracker complex in Singapore, which will include a 450,000 tons-per-year PP unit and a 300,000 tons-per-year specialty elastomers unit. Vistamaxx specialty elastomers are being used in a growing range of nonwoven applications including hygiene, medical, filtration and industrial because of their versatile benefits and product qualities. These include good elasticity, toughness, the ability to bond easily with other materials for advanced processing, design flexibility, and a high coefficient of friction for slip resistant applications.

- ExxonMobil Chemical Company at Chinaplas 2008 showcased a new product, Enable™ mPE, with the potential to significantly reduce waste and energy consumption across a broad spectrum of film applications. Enable mPE’s innovative design reduces the amount of raw materials needed because films can be made thinner, but with equal strength. Enable mPE also generates less process waste than resins used in existing film applications, and it is recyclable. Enable mPE is ExxonMobil Chemical's newest product to improve energy efficiency and exemplifies the company’s commitment to providing solutions for customers. Enable mPE is ideal for packaging that makes it easier to ship and store bottled water, beverages, canned goods, hand soaps, detergents, health products and beauty aids. In addition, Enable mPE’s transparency and toughness make it particularly well-suited for agricultural greenhouse films.

- ExxonMobil Chemical Company will demonstrate its leadership in films technology at booth C40 in Hall 10 at Interpack 2008 in Dusseldorf, Germany from April 24-30, 2008. On display will be ExxonMobil Chemical’s oriented polypropylene (OPP) films, NexxstarTM resin formulation films and other ExceedTM metallocene polyethylene (mPE) based films for packaging applications, all of which provide protection, performance and promotion attributes. In addition, ExxonMobil Chemical will be showcasing its new high barrier MetallyteTM metallized OPP film product range for demanding flexible packaging applications. Three new products - Metallyte 15MM288, Metallyte 18MM883 and Metallyte 18MM882 - are being used to replace thin aluminum foil in applications for dry food and beverage markets. These new products provide the converting and packaging industries with significant opportunities to improve packaging economics, and technical performance. Two different barrier technologies have been developed to provide cost effective solutions covering the broad range of protection requirements for these market segments. Each product is tailored to fulfill different lamination needs and provide robust barrier performance across the entire converting, packaging and distribution chains.

- ExxonMobil Chemical’s Vistamaxx™ 2125 specialty elastomer has won the INDEX 08 Award for the category: "Raw materials or component - innovation in a raw material of special relevance to the nonwovens industry." Recognizing the best examples of excellence in innovation in the nonwovens industry, the INDEX Awards are sponsored by the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDANA), the international association representing nonwovens and related industries. The awards panel is comprised of industry experts from marketing, research and development, the media and academia. INDEX 08 took place in Geneva from April 15-18, 2008.

- ExxonMobil Chemical’s Senior Vice President, Jim Harris, addressed students at East China University of Science and Technology about the opportunities and challenges faced by the energy and petrochemical industries. During his speech, Harris emphasized the role of technology and innovation to help find long-term solutions for the future.

- ExxonMobil Chemical has introduced Metallyte™ UBW-ES, a new OPP film for flexible packaging. With ultra high barrier and enhanced seal technologies, this metallized white film offers economic and performance benefits compared with thin aluminum foil and sealant laminations. Metallyte UBW-ES achieves weight reduction benefits by employing a two-layer lamination, as opposed to the typical three-layer laminate. With this simplified approach, a lamination layer is removed which results in an efficient converting process, reduced raw material costs and lower overall material weight. Depending on the structure replaced, structure simplification using Metallyte UBW-ES may result in total structure weight reductions of up to 30 percent.


• Business/Finance news: ­

- Exxon Mobil Corporation and the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy announced a new way for elementary-school teachers to get a chance to attend the 2009 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy and improve their math and science teaching skills. Students can nominate teachers from Grades 3, 4 and 5 or urge them to apply for an all-expense paid trip to the Academy’s math and science professional development program through www.sendmyteacher.com1, an interactive Web site. Previously all 600 teachers attending the Academy each year were selected in consultation with local school districts in communities where golfer Phil Mickelson plays on the PGA Tour or where ExxonMobil has operations. For the 2009 sessions, 100 teachers will be selected through the nomination process.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced a donation of $10 million to anti-malaria efforts through the “Idol Gives Back” episode of the FOX-TV show American Idol, which airs tonight. The $10-million donation by ExxonMobil, the largest non-pharmaceutical corporate donor to malaria research and development efforts, will be directed to Malaria No More, a non-profit organization with the mission to end deaths due to malaria. Malaria No More works to increase knowledge of the disease among the public, policymakers and businesses while engaging individuals, organizations and corporations to provide life-saving bed nets and other critical interventions in the fight against malaria. This is the second year that ExxonMobil has participated in Idol Gives Back, which raised over $76 million for charity in its first year in 2007. During that program, ExxonMobil provided a $3-million “challenge grant” that matched donations by viewers to Malaria No More. ExxonMobil has donated more than $121 million to organizations working in and benefiting Africa that are engaged in important community and social development projects, including $40 million through ExxonMobil Foundation’s Africa Health Initiative.

- Top honors were awarded to more than 220 students during the 2008 ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair, held April 10-12 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. Ashwathi Mohan and Derek Lam received Best in Fair awards from a field of approximately 1,500 top middle and high school students from across Texas. More than $225,000 in scholarships were awarded during the 22nd year of the state competition, presented by the Texas Science Careers Consortium and hosted by The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). Students competed in two divisions – junior division (grades 6-8) and senior division (grades 9-12) – and all students placing first through fourth in the fair’s 19 categories were recognized. Grand prize winners in the senior division received all-expense paid trips to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), which will be held May 11-17 in Atlanta. The top 10 percent of competitors in the junior division were invited to apply for the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge. Mr. J. Stephen Simon, 64, director and senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), has announced his intention to retire effective May 31, 2008, after more than 40 years of service. Mr. Simon has been a member of the corporation’s Board of Directors since January 2006 and a member of the Management Committee since December 2004. As senior vice president on the Management Committee, Mr. Simon has been responsible for ExxonMobil's petroleum refining and supply and chemicals manufacturing and marketing operations.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) takes the battle against malaria to three continents in commemoration of the first-ever World Malaria Day on April 25. This follows ExxonMobil’s announcement it will donate $10 million to anti-malaria efforts through the “Idol Gives Back” episode of the FOX-TV show American Idol, earlier this month.

- ExxonMobil and its employees donated more than $36 million to 930 colleges and universities across the United States through the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2007 Educational Matching Gift Program. The employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors made more than 9,200 individual contributions totaling almost $11 million to institutions of higher education in 2007, which was matched by the ExxonMobil Foundation with more than $25 million in unrestricted educational grants. The Educational Matching Gift Program is one of the most generous of its kind in the United States, matching gifts to affiliated higher education institutions by employees and retirees on a 3-to-1 basis. Since its inception in 1962, the program has provided more than $372 million to higher education in the United States. ExxonMobil Foundation funds math and science programs to respond to the nation’s growing need to produce more engineers and scientists and to develop more highly qualified math and science teachers. To assist with these efforts, the Foundation is encouraging college and university presidents to allocate a portion of the unrestricted matching funds to existing or new programs which provide teachers with professional development opportunities, train new math and science teachers, and support women and minority science and engineering programs.

- ExxonMobil announced that more than $834,000 has been donated to 34 colleges and universities in North Carolina through the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2007 Educational Matching Gift Program. ExxonMobil employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors contributed more than $220,000 to North Carolina institutions of higher education in 2007, which was matched by the ExxonMobil Foundation with $614,000 in unrestricted educational grants.

- ExxonMobil announced that more than $1.2 million has been donated to 34 colleges and universities in New Jersey through the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2007 Educational Matching Gift Program. ExxonMobil employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors contributed more than $300,000 to New Jersey institutions of higher education in 2007, which was matched by the ExxonMobil Foundation with $900,000 in unrestricted educational grants.

- ExxonMobil announced that more than $3.4 million has been donated to 97 colleges and universities in New York through the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2007 Educational Matching Gift Program. ExxonMobil employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors contributed more than $1.1 million to New York institutions of higher education in 2007, which was matched by the ExxonMobil Foundation with $2.3 million in unrestricted educational grants.

- ExxonMobil and its employees announced that more than $460,000 has been donated to 23 colleges and universities in Florida through the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2007 Educational Matching Gift Program. ExxonMobil employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors contributed more than $124,000 to Florida institutions of higher education in 2007, which was matched by the ExxonMobil Foundation with $338,000 in unrestricted educational grants.

- ExxonMobil announced that more than $1.1 million has been donated to 33 colleges and universities in Virginia through the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2007 Educational Matching Gift Program. ExxonMobil employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors contributed more than $328,000 to Virginia institutions of higher education in 2007, which was matched by the ExxonMobil Foundation with $870,000 in unrestricted educational grants.

- ExxonMobil will release its first quarter 2008 earnings on Thursday, May 1, 2008. The news release will be issued over Business Wire.

- The Board of Directors of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) declared a cash dividend of 40 cents per share on the Common Stock, payable on June 10, 2008, to shareholders of record of Common Stock at the close of business on May 13, 2008. This second quarter dividend compares with 35 cents per share paid in the first quarter of 2008. Through its dividends, the corporation has shared its success with its shareholders for more than 100 years and has increased its annual dividend payment to shareholders for 26 consecutive years.



• Upstream news:



• Downstream news:

­- Further growing its line of premium motor oils, ExxonMobil has introduced a new formulation of Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel Truck 5W-40. This fully synthetic motor oil meets or exceeds the CJ-4 and API SM industry standards and continues the tradition of Mobil 1 products that maximize engine performance and help extend engine life.

- ExxonMobil announced it is committing more than $100 million to complete development and testing of an improved natural gas treating technology which could make carbon capture and storage more affordable and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company plans to build a commercial demonstration plant near LaBarge, Wyoming, where it will use ExxonMobil’s Controlled Freeze ZoneTM technology, known as CFZTM. CFZTM is a single-step cryogenic separation process that freezes out and then melts the carbon dioxide and removes other components including hydrogen sulfide, which is found in so-called sour gas. If successful, the process will reduce the cost of carbon dioxide removal from produced natural gas.

- ExxonMobil Chemical will introduce new co-extruded separator grades for hybrid and electric vehicle batteries at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) in Tampa, Florida on May 12-16, 2008. In addition, Pat Brant, chief polymer scientist, ExxonMobil Chemical, will present a technical paper titled: “ExxonMobil Co-extrusion Separator Technology Platform for HEV/EV LIB”. ExxonMobil Chemical and its Japanese affiliate, Tonen Chemical, have developed two new separator grades with co-extrusion technology to meet more demanding battery requirements. The new co-extruded grades offer enhanced permeability, improved strength, reduced heat shrinkage and higher rupture temperature to improve battery safety and performance.

• Business/Finance news:

- ExxonMobil's first quarter net income was a record $10,890 million, up 17% from the first quarter of 2007. Earnings per share were up 25% reflecting the impact of the continuing share purchase program. Higher crude oil and natural gas realizations, driven by record worldwide crude oil prices, were partly offset by lower refining and chemical margins, lower production volumes and higher operating costs. Spending on capital and exploration projects was $5.5 billion in the first quarter, up 30% from last year, as we continued to actively invest in projects to bring additional crude oil, natural gas and finished products to market. Share purchases to reduce shares outstanding were increased to $8.0 billion in the first quarter of 2008. The Corporation distributed a total of $9.9 billion to shareholders during the quarter through dividends and share purchases to reduce shares outstanding, an increase of 13% or $1.1 billion versus the first quarter of 2007.

- Exxon Mobil reported the second-best quarterly profit in its history — and investors could barely hide their disappointment. Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said its net income rose 17 percent in the first quarter, buoyed by high oil prices. But that was less than Wall Street expected, and Exxon’s shares fell 3.6 percent, to close at $89.70. Moreover, the company’s report displayed fresh difficulties in its core business, with oil production dropping sharply compared with the quarter a year earlier. Crude oil prices have flirted with records, lifting corporate profits throughout the industry to new heights. But they are also masking an increasingly difficult business environment, marked by rising costs, tightening access to oil fields, and declining profit for refineries. For the big oil companies, extraordinary profits have turned into a somewhat incongruous embarrassment of riches. Rising gasoline and diesel fuel prices have created resentment among drivers and truckers against the oil companies that could especially resonate in an election year. The high crude oil prices are translating into record retail gasoline costs in the United States. Regular gasoline was selling Thursday for an average of $3.62 a gallon, according to AAA, the automobile club, up from less than $3 a year ago. Diesel fuel averaged $4.25 a gallon. Few energy specialists expect oil prices to drop much this year. Oil for June delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 94 cents on Thursday, to $112.52 a barrel. While energy companies have little control over the price of oil, which is set on commodities markets, they have benefited immensely from the rally. In the last week, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips all reported big jumps in their profits. Exxon is admired in the industry for its spending discipline and skill at managing complex projects. But this quarter, its profits fell short of Wall Street forecasts. Exxon’s net income was $10.9 billion, or $2.03 a share, up from $9.3 billion, or $1.62 a share a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had forecast $2.13 a share. That level of profitability still makes last quarter Exxon’s second most lucrative, after the record $11.7 billion it earned in the fourth quarter of 2007. Last year, the company reported a profit of $40.6 billion, the biggest annual profit by an American company. Exxon’s oil output dropped almost 10 percent in the first quarter, to 2.47 million barrels a day, compared with the quarter last year, as production fell in every region except Russia and the Caspian. Even disregarding the effect of the events in Venezuela, Exxon’s production fell 6 percent. Its output of natural gas rose by a little more than 1 percent, to 10.2 billion cubic feet a day. Part of the drop in production came from the structure of some international contracts, under which oil companies must give a larger share of the oil they produce back to the host governments as prices rise. Higher prices and a rush to drill new wells have also contributed to sharp inflation in the industry, with exploration and production costs more than doubling in recent years. As a result, oil companies have had difficulty increasing their oil and gas output. Some analysts said Exxon was slow in recent years to increase its investments in response to the higher costs but is now responding more aggressively. In the first quarter, Exxon lifted its spending on capital and exploration projects by 30 percent, to $5.5 billion. From 2002 to 2006, the company spent more than $15 billion each year for oil and gas production and development. Its capital expenses last year rose to $21 billion, and they are expected to average $25 billion to $30 billion from 2008 to 2012. Exxon expects to start a dozen projects this year, including two large natural gas facilities in Qatar and offshore oil developments in Angola and the Gulf of Mexico. The company said it had a portfolio of 119 projects around the world with reserves equivalent to 24 billion barrels of oil. Earnings from exploration and production increased 45 percent, to $8.79 billion. In refining, profit margins have plummeted as refiners were unable to pass through all the increases in crude oil prices. One company, Sunoco, said Wednesday that it had a first-quarter loss of $59 million because of weak refining margins. Exxon said its refining margins dropped last quarter, reducing its profit from refining operations by 39 percent, to $1.17 billion, from the period a year earlier. Exxon sold 6.8 million barrels a day of petroleum products, down 377,000 barrels a day. Oil executives have been called before Congress to defend their profits in the last two years. As energy prices keep rising, there has been support for a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

- It has become a habit when Exxon Mobil has a blockbuster quarter for the company to come under fire for driving up gasoline prices. But attacks from the heirs of John D. Rockefeller, the indomitable capitalist who formed the Standard Oil Trust, which eventually became Exxon? It turns out that some of John D.’s descendants would like to see changes at the oil giant and are publicly challenging the company’s current boss, Rex W. Tillerson. Specifically, they are behind proxy resolutions demanding that the roles of chairman and chief executive be split and that Exxon invest more in alternative energy. Exxon didn’t seem too shaken by the threat from the Rockefeller name. It points out that these family members represent only 0.006 percent of Exxon’s stock. Exxon’s shareholder meeting is May 28. The board has recommended voting against the resolution splitting the chairman and chief executive positions.

- ExxonMobil announced that more than $2.5 million has been donated to 19 colleges and universities in Louisiana through the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2007 Educational Matching Gift Program. ExxonMobil employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors contributed more than $900,000 to Louisiana institutions of higher education in 2007, which was matched by the ExxonMobil Foundation with $1.6 million in unrestricted educational grants.

- ExxonMobil congratulated the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative on the launch of its Business Implementation Guide, an important step in the progress of transparency and good governance in natural resource development. Richard Kruger, president of ExxonMobil Production Company, commented at an industry event to launch the guide, attended by Dr. Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International and chairman of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global coalition for transparency in the extractive industries. Business and non-governmental organizations and a coalition of companies, including ExxonMobil, developed the guide under the leadership of the EITI Secretariat.

- ExxonMobil announced that more than $7.7 million has been donated to 79 colleges and universities in Texas through the ExxonMobil Foundation’s 2007 Educational Matching Gift Program. ExxonMobil employees, retirees, surviving spouses and directors contributed $2.2 million to Texas institutions of higher education in 2007, which was matched by the ExxonMobil Foundation with more than $5.5 million in unrestricted educational grants.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) improved its environmental, economic and social performance while continuing to supply energy necessary for economic growth and improved living standards, the corporation said today in its 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report. The report details how ExxonMobil reduced greenhouse gas emissions, led the industry in worker safety and oil-spill prevention, and contributed more than eight times its earnings -- a record $336 billion -- to economies around the world through taxes and purchases of goods and services.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) is outpacing its competitors in providing shareholder value and is well positioned to deliver vital energy to meet growing global demand while protecting the environment, the corporation said today at its Annual Meeting of Shareholders. The annualized return on investment for ExxonMobil shareholders was more than 24 percent per year over the past five years, tripling the value of an investment during the period. Put another way, $1,000 invested in ExxonMobil in 1987 is now worth nearly $19,000, double the growth of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and ahead of the average of ExxonMobil’s competitors.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) announced that shareholders elected Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. to its board of directors. Mr. Whitacre is chairman emeritus of AT&T Inc., where he was chairman and chief executive officer until his retirement in 2007. With Mr. Whitacre’s election, the ExxonMobil board stands at 11 directors, 10 of whom are non-employee directors.

- Exxon Mobil’s chairman and chief executive, Rex W. Tillerson, defeated a shareholder effort to take away one of his jobs at an annual meeting punctuated by a debate of the company’s policy toward renewable energy and global warming. The vote was nonbinding and would not have guaranteed a change in company policies had it passed. But by defeating the challenge, which was supported this year by many members of the Rockefeller family, Mr. Tillerson avoided a serious rebuke to his authority to run the world’s largest independent oil company. The resolution to divide the top two positions won 39.5 percent of the vote, about the same as last year. The vote was announced after a robust debate among shareholders, those who defended management as a great engine for profits and those who argued that a narrow focus on developing oil and gas as energy sources would threaten the global environment and ultimately the company’s financial health. Mr. Tillerson told shareholders that he thought that Exxon had to keep focused on its mission of developing more oil and gas reserves, and that oil and gas would remain the primary fuel source for decades to come. The meeting attracted particular attention this year because several prominent descendants of John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil Trust, sponsored 4 of 17 nonbinding proxy resolutions introduced at the meeting to take the company in different directions. Only the resolution calling on the company to divide the roles of chairman and chief executive was seen as having a chance of passing. Shell and BP already separate the positions. Shareholders who supported the split said it would sharpen Exxon’s management and give voice to fresh perspectives from an independent board. The resolution gained support over the years, receiving 40 percent of the vote last year. The Rockefeller family members who were publicly backing the effort this year said they did not intend to embarrass Mr. Tillerson but thought that the company needed to show more leadership in developing alternative fuel sources that would combat global warming. Others backed and have co-sponsored three other resolutions asking that Exxon study the impact of global warming on poor countries, reduce company emissions of greenhouse gases and do more research on renewable energy sources like wind turbines and solar panels. Under Exxon rules, proxy resolutions are nonbinding unless they have the support of the board. But company executives say they must take the opinions of shareholders seriously, especially when they represent a majority of votes taken. Exxon shares were up 63 cents, to $90.43 at the close of trading on Wednesday.

- With Big Oil pumping out immense profits, you’d think cash would be available to fund renewable-energy programs. It is, and there's plenty of it, yet the majors' outsize earnings may be leading them back to the oil patch instead. In February, BP said it would regard its impressive solar and wind operations strictly for their equity value and might spin them off. So much for Beyond Petroleum. More recently, Royal Dutch Shell withdrew from a landmark wind project in Britain and in 2006 sold the lion’s share of its solar interests to a German firm. Exxon Mobil Corp., the giant among giants, remains outspoken in its belief in the enduring primacy of oil -- an issue that activist shareholders challenged at the company's annual meeting today in Dallas. Energy alternatives have gotten a bit more traction at Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips, but they still take a far back seat to other priorities at those premier fossil fuel marketers. Big Oil commands the expertise, and certainly the resources, to play a transformative role in tackling the planet's energy dilemma. That, however, would entail a measure of self-transformation. At least in the short term, these profit machines have little incentive to bear the costs of a new mission or foster a culture of change. Contrast their stance with that of U.S. carmakers. General Motors Corp., for one, is scrambling for survival by investing in hybrids, fuel cells and other technologies that limit oil use and carbon emissions. "The auto industry has been disciplined by the marketplace," said Deron Lovaas, a transportation expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Their profit margins are gone. The marketplace is not providing the discipline for the oil companies to help get us where we, and they, need to go." Instead, the majors are going to Canada’s Alberta province to squeeze oil out of tar sands. These lands contain potentially 175 billion recoverable barrels, but don't expect to see gushers. The oil is embedded in sand, clay and silt, and its extraction requires great flows of water and natural gas. In the process, a heavy load of CO2 is released, much more than in conventional oil operations. Costs are steep in the tar sands. The added overhead is justified only by the startling price the resource now fetches. Why are the majors going to such trouble? As the cliché says, the low-hanging fruit already has been picked. Access to the world’s rich fields is dwindling for the Western oil powers. Stagnant global output is fanning supply fears –- is "peak oil" approaching? -– and state-controlled companies overseas have a lock on the majority of the remaining assets. Consider that in the most recent quarter, maturing wells and confiscation in Venezuela factored into a 10% decline in production at Exxon Mobil. For investors, that was an oil shock of a different kind. "Many people in the industry I speak to off the record admit to being quite terrified about where future supply is coming from," said Andrew Logan, oil program director at CERES, which works with investors toward environmental goals. "They don’t know what to do, so they are investing in these secondary sources. They see where the future is going, but their business is so good currently that they fear the market response if they diversify." Indeed, Big Oil is finely attuned to rewarding shareholders by throwing off cash. Stock buybacks outstrip spending to find oil and gas, to say nothing of the industry’s minuscule investment in clean and renewable fuels. Exxon, for example, racked up almost $405 billion in revenue last year, taking home $40.6 billion in profit. About $21 billion was channeled into capital costs, including exploration. By contrast, the company laid out $31.8 billion to take its own shares out of circulation. And then there's the ever-rising dividend. Even after the buybacks, Exxon has $41.4 billion in cash sitting on its balance sheet. Exxon's direction is under fire from some activist investors. At the annual meeting today ballots will be taken on a series of resolutions mandating sustainable-energy projects, along with a proposal to separate the roles of chief executive and chairman. The California Public Employees' Retirement System, the biggest public pension pool in the U.S., is an avid backer of the campaign, which CERES helped organize. Large swaths of the Rockefeller clan –- descendants of Exxon's founder, John D. -- are keen to see the company's top jobs divided. A smaller but still sizable contingent favors the green intitiatives. (Post-meeting update: The ballot measures failed. Go here for the results.) These investors say the firm's own sustainability is at risk, not just energy resources. To keep the rich returns coming, they argue, Exxon can't ignore the need to adapt to a low-carbon future, with momentum shifting to renewables. Better, why not lead the way? It's a future that's still blurry, but it promises to change the equation for Big Oil. As the majors tear up the tar sands and delve into even more experimental sources like the shale along the Continental Divide, each unit of energy becomes more costly to extract. Regulation is likely to pile on additional burdens. Lawmakers are expected to attach a price to carbon emissions in the coming years and potentially raise standards for clean-burning fuels. Investors aren't being warned because no one can put their finger on the charges. Analysts on Wall Street "don't know how to capture these potential costs yet," said Philip Weiss of Argus Research. If and when the numbers change, he said, oil company shareholders may be in for a rude surprise. Weiss applauds the majors' dive into the tar sands but also believes they need to direct some of their vast resources into alternatives. He favors the venture capital model rather than in-house projects -- he’s not sure these old hands are built to go about the task effectively themselves. "Oil is a depleting resource, and if I’m a shareholder, that's something I care about," Weiss said. "If the company does nothing to replace it, eventually that company is going to go away."

- There were storms around New York, and we sat on the runway for hours. I was heading to Dallas for Exxon Mobil’s annual meeting, which had become this year’s “can’t-miss” meeting, especially if you are a reporter. For the first time ever, several members of the Rockefeller family were going to use the annual meeting to publicly criticize the company founded by their patriarch, John D. Rockefeller. His great-granddaughter, Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, the co-director of the Global Development and Environmental Institute at Tufts University, was planning to offer several shareholder resolutions concerning global warming on behalf of a handful of family members. A larger group of Rockefellers was backing a nonbinding resolution, put forth by the shareholder activist Robert Monks, calling on the company to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive. Meanwhile, Rex W. Tillerson, Exxon Mobil’s imposing C.E.O. (and, lest we forget, board chairman) was going to give a rare press conference after it was over. Waiting for my plane to go wheels up, I pulled out The New York Review of Books; an article by the great physicist Freeman Dyson had caught my eye. It was a review of two books about global warming. Mr. Dyson argued that while there is clear scientific evidence showing that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen steadily, it does not necessarily mean that the end is nigh. Mr. Dyson talked soberly about the economic trade-offs involved in various solutions to cut carbon emissions, and agreed with the Yale economist William Nordhaus, author of one of the books under review, that some of the most radical solutions (especially some from Al Gore) would be “disastrously expensive,” and would damage the global economy. Even more striking was his view that the science surrounding the havoc global warming would one day wreak on the planet was far from settled. He posed the real possibility that a low-cost solution would eventually manage the problem. He concluded that environmentalism had become “a worldwide secular religion ... holding that we are stewards of the earth”— which for the most part was a good thing. “Unfortunately,” Mr. Dyson added, “some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of the planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment.” So bitter and passionate, it turns out, that global warming can divide families. Even the Rockefellers. Last year was another fabulous year for Exxon Mobil. It made a record $40.6 billion in profits. It replaced its reserves, no easy task with oil so hard to find and extract these days. Its safety record was stellar. Its return on capital was an astounding 32 percent, another record. It spent $21 billion in capital investments while also paying out $36 billion on a combination of dividends and stock buy backs. It share price rose 22 percent. You can argue, as many do, that this performance is nothing more than a case of holding out the umbrella while it rains money — that it’s all due to the dramatic run-up in the price of oil. But it’s a lot more than that. Exxon Mobil’s competitors are operating in the same environment, and they can’t touch its performance. As he laid out the company’s results during a 45-minute speech that opened the annual meeting, Mr. Tillerson kept using the word “discipline.” “By maintaining discipline and rigor in everything we do” the company would continue to outperform the competition, he said, for instance. Discipline and rigor are indeed at the heart of the company’s engineering culture, and have a lot to do with why Exxon Mobil is so successful. When you’re spending literally billions of dollars building a refinery in China, as Exxon Mobil is, you can’t afford to be sloppy. “I wish our government were run as efficiently as Exxon Mobil,” said Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst with Oppenheimer & Company. That discipline is drummed into Exxon Mobil executives very early — which gets at another characteristic of the company: it is extremely insular. Like most Exxon Mobil executives, Mr. Tillerson signed on in his early 20s and never left. And that bugs its critics. Many of those who spoke out against the company at the annual meeting — including Ms. Goodwin — talked about the need to bring “fresh perspectives” to the board. That, she said, was why she and other Rockefellers supported the resolution to bring in an independent board chairman. “Their strength is that they are an inward-looking company with discipline,” said Mr. Monks, who has sponsored his independent chairman resolution for a half-dozen years. “Their weakness is that they are an inward-looking company with discipline.” He’s got a point; the same qualities that make Exxon Mobil the world’s best producer of oil and gas also cause it to be a terrible articulator of its own message. Its executives really only feel comfortable when they’re speaking to each other. But let’s be honest here: gaining fresh perspective is hardly the primary reason the dissident Rockefellers got behind Mr. Monks’s resolution. The Monks proposal was a stalking horse for the issue that matters most to them: global warming. Most of the members of the family who are critical of Exxon Mobil are staunch environmentalists, who feel that “their” company should be doing more — much, much more — to help the world move to alternative sources of energy. Here they are on far shakier ground.



• Upstream news:


• Downstream news:

­- ExxonMobil Chemical has introduced new transparent and translucent thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) grades designed for grip applications in the kitchenware, consumer electronics, tools, small appliance and stationery markets. ExxonMobil TPE F471-60 exhibits excellent transparency with 82 percent light transmittance. The translucent grade, ExxonMobil TPE F371-60, has a light transmittance of 10 percent. Both new grades offer a unique combination of properties that make them dishwasher safe and ideal replacements for flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These TPEs also accept a range of special effects such as metallic, iridescent or transparent colors.

- Exxon Mobil said that it was withdrawing from the retail gas business in the United States, citing the “very challenging” business conditions for its service stations. Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, said it would sell the roughly 2,220 service stations it owned across the United States, including about 820 that it also operated. The company will maintain the Exxon and Mobil brands, an Exxon spokeswoman, Prem Nair, said. Of the 12,000 or so Exxon Mobil-branded stations in the United States, about 75 percent are already owned by others. Service stations have struggled, even with soaring gasoline prices, because they have not been able to push the high cost of crude oil on to customers. According to federal data, gasoline prices are up about 31 percent over the last year.

• Business/Finance news:

­- ExxonMobil kicked-off the 18th annual ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program (CSJP) in Dallas during a reception at the Dallas Arboretum. The program, now in its 37th year nationally, pairs 75 undergraduate college students with local nonprofits for a paid internship. Agencies receive the benefit of a talented staff member during the busy summer months, while students gain real world experience, learn more about the role of nonprofits in the community and earn a paycheck. ExxonMobil supports the program with a $237,000 grant, which funds the interns’ salaries and expenses for administering the program.

- ExxonMobil and Volunteer Houston announced the commencement of the 11th Annual ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. ExxonMobil recognized the 65 participating agencies and the selected interns at a breakfast reception held at the Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas – BizTown. The program enables 65 full-time college students to gain hands-on experience and knowledge of the nonprofit sector, while lending a helping hand to the agencies during the busy summer months. The goal of the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program is to promote the importance of community service and cultivate future community leaders. At the reception, ExxonMobil presented the third annual Volunteer Spirit Award to Patricia Rosenberg for her continuing support to area nonprofits through her volunteerism and advocacy. In addition, Peyton Robey and Stephanie Kirkpatrick, both former Community Summer Jobs Program interns and now pursuing full-time careers in the nonprofit sector, will receive the Community Champion Award.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has been awarded the 2008 Malaria Award by the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in recognition of the corporation’s Africa Health Initiative and its role in the battle against malaria.

- The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) honored U. S. Representative Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and ExxonMobil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex W. Tillerson, with the Inspira Award for their leadership in education for Latinos and for inspiring a new generation of Hispanic leaders in the United States.

- The ExxonMobil Green Team celebrated the start of its 27th year in Dallas with a day of environmental activities at ExxonMobil’s corporate headquarters. Forty Green Team students participated in hands-on learning stations set up by the Dallas Zoo, environmental service projects benefiting partner nonprofit agencies, and a nature walk through ExxonMobil’s grounds to learn about native plants and animals. The grounds at ExxonMobil’s headquarters are certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council as a “Wildlife at Work Habitat,” a distinction the site has maintained since 2003. One of ExxonMobil’s signature community programs, the Green Team provides a meaningful work experience and educational opportunities for Dallas-area high school students from low- to moderate-income families. Students are placed with local nonprofits for eight weeks, where they work in teams of four to six on environmental and conservation projects including research, education and public awareness campaigns. In addition to their work experience, students also receive weekly instruction from the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and attend classes in career exploration, leadership development and environmental engineering. On Fridays, the Green Team members participate in educational field trips and activities with an environmental focus. Students are paid for all time spent in the program.

- The Supreme Court reduced what had once been a $5 billion punitive damages award against ExxonMobil to about $500 million. The ruling essentially concluded a legal saga that started when the Exxon Valdez, a supertanker, struck a reef and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989. The decision may have broad implications for limits on punitive damages generally. Punitive damages, which are meant to punish and deter, are imposed on top of compensatory damages, which aim to make plaintiffs whole. Justice David H. Souter, writing for the majority in the 5-to-3 decision, said a ratio between the two sorts of damages of no more than one-to-one was generally appropriate, at least in maritime cases. Since Exxon has paid about $507 million to compensate more than 32,000 Native Alaskans, landowners and commercial fishermen, Justice Souter said, it should have to pay no more than that amount in punitive damages. That works out to $15,000 for each plaintiff for compensation and $15,000 more as punitive damages. Justice John Paul Stevens, in a dissent, said he would have upheld the original jury award, which the federal appeals court in California had reduced to $2.5 billion. The Exxon Valdez spill was the worst in American history, damaging 1,300 miles of shoreline, disrupting the lives and livelihoods of people in the region and killing hundreds of thousands of birds and marine animals. It occurred after the ship’s captain, Joseph J. Hazelwood, left the bridge at a crucial moment. Mr. Hazelwood, an alcoholic, had downed five double vodkas on the night of the disaster, according to witnesses. Exxon paid more than $3.4 billion in fines, cleanup expenses and other costs. The spill still affects Alaska’s fisheries today. The question remaining after Wednesday’s decision is whether the one-to-one ratio will apply outside of maritime cases. In the Exxon case, the court was acting as a state appellate court typically might, assessing the reasonableness of the punitive award under the common law rather than asking whether it violated constitutional due process protections. It is not clear, then, what effect the decision will have in cases presenting the constitutional question. In 2003, in State Farm v. Campbell, the court ruled that a single-digit ratio (that is, no more than 9:1) was appropriate as a matter of due process in all but the most exceptional cases. In cases where compensatory damages are substantial, the State Farm court went on, “a lesser ratio, perhaps only equal to compensatory damages” might be warranted. Justice Souter’s last footnote in Wednesday’s decision, Exxon Shipping v. Baker, No. 07-219, underscored the suggestion in State Farm that in cases with substantial compensatory awards “the constitutional outer limit may well be 1:1.” The Exxon decision may also be influential in cases where state court judges are making their own common-law assessments of reasonableness. While the Supreme Court’s reasoning in a federal maritime case is not binding on them, at least some state judges will find it instructive and persuasive. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. owns Exxon stock and did not participate in the case. As a consequence, the court split 4 to 4 on a separate question in the case, that of whether Exxon may be held accountable for Mr. Hazelwood’s recklessness. The effect of the even split was to leave intact the ruling of the lower court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which said Exxon may be held responsible. The remaining members of the court were unanimous in rejecting a third argument from Exxon, that the Clean Water Act’s penalties pre-empted the punitive award. Three justices issued their own dissents from the majority’s ruling reducing the punitive award. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that imposing a broadly applicable rule is a job for Congress, not the courts. He acknowledged the problem of “large outlier awards” but said courts can address those case by case. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also dissenting, asked a series of pointed questions. For instance: “What ratio will the court set for defendants who acted maliciously or in pursuit of financial gain?” And: “On the next opportunity, will the court rule, definitively, that 1:1 is the ceiling due process requires in all of the states, and for all federal claims?” In his dissent, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that Exxon’s conduct warranted “an exception from strict application of the majority’s numerical rule.” Jeffrey L. Fisher, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said there was “a great deal of sadness” among his clients. “What is painful,” Mr. Fisher said, “is that there seems to have been some disagreement between the dissenters and the majority on how reprehensible Exxon’s conduct was.” In a statement, Rex W. Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil, said “The company cleaned up the spill and voluntarily compensated more than 11,000 Alaskans and businesses. The clean-up was declared complete by the State of Alaska and the United States Coast Guard in 1992.” Business groups welcomed the majority’s ruling. Justice Souter was a little self-conscious in presenting a numerical ratio as a rule of law. “Some will murmur that this smacks too much of policy and too little of principle,” he wrote. But, he added, “history certainly is no support for the notion that judges cannot use numbers.”

- Time heals all wounds, and reduces most lawsuit payouts. The Supreme Court was the final step in a 14-year legal fight by ExxonMobil to reduce the punitive damages it would have to pay about 33,000 Alaskans who claimed they were harmed by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. The justices began mulling the case in February. The company argued that it had paid out about $3.4 billion already to clean up Prince William Sound and provide other assistance. The ruling went 5-3 in favor of reducing the punitive damages to $500 million. (Justice Samuel Alito recused himself because he owns Exxon stock.) Here’s a pdf of the decision. ExxonMobil based its argument on precedents set in two old cases of maritime law holding that “punitive damages are not available against a shipowner for a shipmaster’s recklessness” (language from today’s decision). One case was a suit in 1818 against the owners of The Scourge, a privateer whose officers and crew boarded and plundered a neutral ship, the Amiable Nancy.

- Statement by ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO, Rex W. Tillerson, Regarding the Valdez Supreme Court Ruling: The Supreme Court ruled on legal questions relating to punitive damages and the Valdez oil spill. The Valdez oil spill was a tragic accident and one which the corporation deeply regrets. We know this has been a very difficult time for everyone involved. We have worked hard over many years to address the impacts of the spill and to prevent such accidents from happening in our company again. We took immediate responsibility for the spill and have spent over $3.4 billion as a result of the accident, including compensatory payments, cleanup payments, settlements and fines. The company cleaned up the spill and voluntarily compensated more than 11,000 Alaskans and businesses. The clean-up was declared complete by the State of Alaska and the United States Coast Guard in 1992. In the aftermath of the Valdez accident, we redoubled our long-time commitment to safeguard the environment, our employees and the communities in which we operate.


• Upstream news:

- ­ExxonMobil Production Company announced it has awarded contracts for work in support of the first well of a multi-well drilling program at Point Thomson. The work is part of the plan submitted to the Department of Natural Resources earlier this year to develop the Point Thomson Unit. ExxonMobil is operator of the unit. A contract to Nanuq, Inc, together with Alaska Frontier Constructors, Inc. (Nanuq/AFC), both of Anchorage, Alaska, is for construction and maintenance of nearly 50 miles of ice roads and an ice air strip needed to transport the drilling rig and associated materials, camps and personnel to the Point Thomson site. Barges to move the construction equipment to the Point Thomson site have been contracted. Additional contracts are planned for other key project activities. The construction activity advances the development of the Point Thomson hydrocarbon resource for the mutual benefit of Alaskans and the 27 Point Thomson Unit working interest owners.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) announced the Gippsland Basin Joint Venture, which includes its subsidiary, Esso Australia, will invest $1.1 billion to develop more than 270 million oil-equivalent barrels from the Turrum field in the Bass Strait, offshore southeast Australia. The development follows the recent announcement of $1 billion in funding to develop natural gas from the Kipper field, also in the Bass Strait. Esso Australia is the Turrum field operator and holds 50 percent interest with BHP Billiton. Esso Australia operates 21 offshore oil and gas production facilities in Bass Strait and also operates and holds 32.5 percent interest in the Kipper Unit Joint Venture with BHP Billiton and Santos Limited.

• Downstream news:

- ExxonMobil Chemical’s Santoprene™ thermoplastic vulcanizate (TPV) 8291-85TL bonds directly to metal to simplify weatherseal fabrication. This grade is suitable for virtually any automotive weatherseal application where metal and TPV surfaces can be joined in a co-extrusion process. Santoprene TPV 8291-85TL is used as a tie layer between a TPV and the metal portions of a weatherseal. Because of a strong cohesive chemical bond with the metal, it eliminates solvent-based primer and adhesive systems as well as the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) they generate.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced that its affiliate has commenced operations of a $1.3 billion project in Nigeria to produce and sell natural gas liquids, providing a new source of energy and economic benefits while reducing environmental impacts. Operated by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, an ExxonMobil affiliate, the East Area Natural Gas Liquids II project involves the recovery of 275 million barrels of natural gas liquids from associated gas produced in East Area reservoirs from Blocks OML 67, 68 and 70. Major components of the project include an offshore natural gas liquids extraction complex, more than 125 miles (200 kilometers) of new natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines and expansion of the existing onshore Bonny River Terminal for fractionation of the liquids into commercial products and offloading. The natural gas liquids project is part of an integrated approach to significantly reduce flaring in conjunction with the existing East Area Additional Oil Recovery project. The projects will significantly reduce flaring and improve oil recovery through reservoir pressure maintenance. In addition, the East Area NGL II project will produce at its peak about 50,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day. It is designed to ultimately recover 275 million barrels of natural gas liquids and utilize 950 million standard cubic feet of gas daily.

• Business/Finance news:

- Joint ventures in Qatar in which Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) participates will start up projects over the next two years that will bring more liquefied natural gas to market than any other international oil company, Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer, said. Speaking at the 19th World Petroleum Congress in Madrid, Mr. Tillerson outlined the challenge of supplying growing energy needs while minimizing the impact on the environment.

- ExxonMobil and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation named Cynthia Reyna, a graduating student of Charles H. Milby High School in Houston, TX, as the national winner of the 2008 Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards in Engineering and Mathematics, an award sponsored by ExxonMobil. Reyna was honored for her outstanding accomplishments in engineering and mathematics during a ceremony in Kansas City, Mo. Reyna was chosen for her many achievements in engineering and mathematics as well as for academic excellence and commitment to the community. In addition to the $3,000 scholarship she received as a regional winner, she was given a $5,000 educational grant, laptop computer and a trip to the National Youth Award presentation in Kansas City, Mo. In October, she will travel to the annual Hispanic Heritage Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Reyna will use the educational grants to study at Texas A&M University where she is majoring in civil engineering.

- ExxonMobil will release its second quarter 2008 earnings on Thursday, July 31, 2008. The news release will be issued over Business Wire.

- Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers and Brittney Titus, intern at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, were named Agency of the Year and Intern of the Year as part of the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program (CSJP). The ExxonMobil CSJP, now in its 37th year nationally, pairs 75 undergraduate college students with local nonprofits for a paid internship. Agencies receive the benefit of a talented staff member during the busy summer months, while students gain real world experience, learn more about the role of nonprofits in the community and earn a paycheck.

- The Board of Directors of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) declared a cash dividend of 40 cents per share on the Common Stock, payable on September 10, 2008, to shareholders of record of Common Stock at the close of business on August 13, 2008.

- ExxonMobil's second quarter earnings excluding special items were a record $11,970 million, up 17% from the second quarter of 2007. Earnings per share excluding special items were up 24% reflecting the impact of the continuing share purchase program. Net income for the second quarter was $11,680 million, up 14% from the second quarter of 2007. Net income included an after tax special charge of $290 million reflecting the $508 million maximum punitive damages set by the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Valdez litigation. Record crude oil and natural gas realizations were partly offset by lower refining and chemical margins, lower production volumes and higher operating costs. First half earnings excluding special items increased by 17% over the first half of 2007 reflecting higher crude oil and natural gas realizations. Net income for the first half of 2008 was up 16% versus 2007. ExxonMobil increased investments across all business lines to help meet global demand for crude oil, natural gas and finished products. Capital and exploration project spending increased to $7.0 billion in the second quarter, up 38% from last year. For the first half of 2008, spending on capital and exploration projects was $12.5 billion. The Corporation distributed a total of $10.1 billion to shareholders in the second quarter through dividends of $2.1 billion and share purchases to reduce shares outstanding of $8.0 billion.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced that its affiliate has commenced operations of a $1.3 billion project in Nigeria to produce and sell natural gas liquids, providing a new source of energy and economic benefits while reducing environmental impacts. Operated by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, an ExxonMobil affiliate, the East Area Natural Gas Liquids II project involves the recovery of 275 million barrels of natural gas liquids from associated gas produced in East Area reservoirs from Blocks OML 67, 68 and 70. Major components of the project include an offshore natural gas liquids extraction complex, more than 125 miles (200 kilometers) of new natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines and expansion of the existing onshore Bonny River Terminal for fractionation of the liquids into commercial products and offloading. The natural gas liquids project is part of an integrated approach to significantly reduce flaring in conjunction with the existing East Area Additional Oil Recovery project. The projects will significantly reduce flaring and improve oil recovery through reservoir pressure maintenance. In addition, the East Area NGL II project will produce at its peak about 50,000 barrels of natural gas liquids per day. It is designed to ultimately recover 275 million barrels of natural gas liquids and utilize 950 million standard cubic feet of gas daily.

- Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers and Brittney Titus, intern at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, were named Agency of the Year and Intern of the Year as part of the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program (CSJP). The ExxonMobil CSJP, now in its 37th year nationally, pairs 75 undergraduate college students with local nonprofits for a paid internship. Agencies receive the benefit of a talented staff member during the busy summer months, while students gain real world experience, learn more about the role of nonprofits in the community and earn a paycheck.

- Oil prices had their biggest ever drop this week, falling by more than $16 a barrel in the last four days. Still, oil remains at stratospheric levels, settling at $128.88 a barrel. And with global oil consumption still growing faster than new supplies, there are few remedies. In an interview, Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, shared his views on oil prices, the role of Western companies in a world increasingly dominated by state-owned energy giants and the future for alternative fuels in a fossil fuel world. Q. The debate lately has centered around expanding domestic drilling. But many say this will do nothing to reduce prices now because it takes 10 years before any new production comes online. A. If you use that logic, then we should not have any of the barrels that are available today. All of today’s supplies were developed years ago. It is nonsensical for people to make that argument. It reflects the ongoing difficulty we have with people who don’t understand the nature of the energy system. Q. Sure, but the argument is that we should focus on the demand side of the equation and that we cannot drill out of this problem. A. Well, you can’t conserve yourself out of this problem either. You can’t replace your fuels with alternatives out of this problem either. The reason the United States has never had an energy policy is because an energy policy needs to be left alone for 15 to 20 years to take effect. But our policy makers want a two-year energy policy to fit with the election cycle because that is what people want. The answer is you can’t fix it right now. Q. Globally, the picture for oil supplies looks pretty bleak. Where are new supplies going to come from in the next five years? A. There is an access issue, in this country, and in many countries around the world. The problem with the supply side of the equation is a problem of accessing the resources in the ground so they can be explored and developed. That’s a political question where governments have made choices. This is something where the United States has to look at the mirror first. Q. Aren’t we paying the price for more than a decade of underinvestment in new oil supplies when prices were low in the 1990s? A. This business is always a function of, can you earn an acceptable return for the risks you are taking. This is still an enormously risky business. We don’t advertise our $100 million dry holes. We’ve been able to do that thanks to careful risk management. The costs of our failures are born by our ability to be successful in other areas. In the 1990s, there was a big surplus. You could also say the industry paid a big price for having overinvested in the 1970s and 1980s. Q. Doesn’t the obsession with high returns close the door to many opportunities? A. We manage the business to be economic and robust across a wide range of business environments because that is what we have experienced over the past 100 years, a pretty wide range of business environments. We don’t think our approach is leaving us out of any opportunities. Q. You were an early critic of biofuels, and you once referred to ethanol as “moonshine.” What role do you see for alternative fuels, including ethanol? A. There is no question in my mind that we will develop a replacement fuel for conventional motor gasoline. But we will also develop other ways to use fossil fuels for transportation that are more efficient and more environmentally friendly. We’ve made the point that we’re spending our time and effort to look at what is the next technological leap for transportation fuels, and what are the technologies that Exxon possesses that can contribute to that breakthrough. Q. Would it be wrong then for government to tax windfall profits to finance research into alternative fuels? A. Why would you want to tax windfall profits to do so? Why target a specific industry when you are looking to raise revenue? The last time government taxed windfall profits, it was a disaster. Why would you want to do so again? Any taxing program that targets a specific industry is never a very good idea. Q. What can be done today to reduce oil and gasoline prices? A. In the near term, the most immediate steps we can take are going to largely be around efficiency. We’re already seeing people responding that way, by using mass transportation and economizing the trips they take. Q. Oil prices dropped by $16 in four days. Is the bubble bursting? A. It is difficult for me to explain or rationalize the high level of oil prices we’ve seen in the last four to six months. We’ve seen that kind of volatility in the upside. But it is too early to generalize without looking at the longer term trends. Q. What do you think about the role of financial institutions, sometimes referred to as speculators, in commodity markets? Is Congress right to look into that? A. As long as we keep our terminology straight here and don’t get speculation confused with manipulation. Speculation in all markets, not just in oil but in commodity and capital markets, plays a useful and important role in risk management and in bringing liquidity. It would be proper for policy makers to ensure that the functioning of the market is not providing for a manipulation of the price. Q. Many energy experts were caught flatfooted by the rapid rise in prices in recent years. How do you explain it? A. I was surprised by how rapidly the price ran and how high it ran. It clearly is a demand-driven price run-up that we’ve seen, especially in emerging economies because of price controls and subsidies. We are not seeing the normal market signals responding normally. That’s one of the causes behind the rapid run-up. Q: Where do you see your company in 20 years? Will oil and gas still be your dominant business? A: Yes. In 2030, oil and gas will represent 60 percent of the world’s energy needs. My view is I am going to keep doing what we do better than anyone else in the world — finding, developing and delivering oil and gas to the world. We will still be doing it in 20 years because people will still be needing it.

- Here are a few facts about Exxon-Mobil quarterly announced profits: They were $11.7 billion, up 16 percent from a year earlier. Because Exxon spends more money on share repurchases than on capital spending and exploration, the share count keeps falling and earnings per share were up 23 percent. That is the largest quarterly profit ever reported by a company, according to Howard Silverblatt of Standard & Poor’s, surpassing the record set in last year’s fourth quarter by Exxon-Mobil. Those profits, S.&P. estimates, will amount to 7.3 percent of the total quarterly profits of the 500 companies in the S.&P. 500. The stock market thinks the earnings were disappointing. Exxon-Mobil shares are down $2.48 to $81.90. The shares are down 13 percent since the end of 2007.


• Upstream news:

­- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced that its subsidiary, Esso Exploration Angola (Block 15) Limited (Esso Angola), has started production from the Saxi and Batuque fields as part of the development progression of the Kizomba C project. Combined with a third Kizomba C field, Mondo, which came on stream in January, the project is anticipated to reach a total production rate of 200,000 barrels of oil per day later this year. The Kizomba C development is designed to produce a total of approximately 600 million barrels of oil over the life of the three producing fields, which are located approximately 90 miles (145 kilometers) off the coast of Angola in water depths of nearly 2,400 feet (800 meters). The Kizomba C development includes two floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessels and 36 subsea wells, making it the largest subsea development operated by an ExxonMobil affiliate worldwide. The twin FPSO vessels are the fourth and fifth production hubs on Block 15, following Xikomba in 2003, Kizomba A in 2004, and Kizomba B in 2005. Total Block 15 production is expected to total approximately 700,000 barrels a day when the Saxi and Batuque fields reach peak production.

- ExxonMobil Production Company announced that it has completed initial barging of equipment and supplies to the Point Thomson drill site. This work supports the drilling program outlined in the Point Thomson development plan submitted to the Department of Natural Resources earlier this year. ExxonMobil is operator of the Point Thomson unit. The barges and tugs, operated by Crowley Maritime Corporation, transported ice road and drill site construction equipment and supplies to the Point Thomson site located on Alaska's North Slope. ExxonMobil has conducted field operations at Point Thomson for several weeks following issuance of permits and is awaiting additional permits from State regulatory agencies necessary to allow drilling activities to continue.

• Downstream news:

- ExxonMobil Chemical announced that it has completed a major expansion to increase halobutyl manufacturing capacity at its plant in Baytown, Texas. The expansion is part of the company’s commitment to help meet growing demand for halobutyl rubber. By adding equipment and modifying existing facilities, the Baytown plant has increased its capacity to produce EXXON™ Bromobutyl rubber (brominated butyl rubber) by 60 percent.

- To help educate trucking fleet managers and owner-operators about how synthetic lubricants can enhance the performance and reliability of their vehicles, as well as potentially deliver fuel economy benefits, ExxonMobil introduced a new six-page color brochure for its flagship Mobil Delvac synthetic commercial vehicle lubricants. The Mobil Delvac lineup of the fully synthetic heavy-duty lubricants includes Mobil Delvac Synthetic Transmission Fluid, Mobil Delvac Synthetic Gear Oil, Mobil Delvac Synthetic ATF, and Mobil Delvac 1 ESP 5W-40 which, in June 2007, became the world’s first API CJ-4 licensed all synthetic 5W-40 lubricant.

- ExxonMobil Chemical announced the start-up of a manufacturing facility at its existing site in Pensacola, Fla., that provides new capacity for the production of a revolutionary new tire material technology that can improve vehicle fuel efficiency. Specifically, Exxcore™ DVA enables better fuel economy from significantly improved tire inflation pressure retention (IPR). IPR is a measure of tire air pressure loss over time. Improved air retention means reduced rolling resistance, resulting in improved fuel economy.

• Business/Finance news:

- Exxon Mobil reported the best quarterly profit ever for a corporation, beating its own record, but investors sold off shares as oil and natural gas prices resumed their recent decline. Record earnings for Exxon, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, have become routine as the surge of oil prices in recent years has filled its coffers. The company’s income for the second quarter rose 14 percent, to $11.68 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. That beat the previous record of $11.66 billion set by Exxon in the last three months of 2007. Exxon’s profits were nearly $90,000 a minute over the quarter, but it was less than Wall Street had expected. Exxon’s shares fell 4.6 percent, to close at $80.43. (The company calculates that it pays $274,000 a minute in taxes and spends $884,000 a minute to run the business.) The disappointment from investors is bound to put added pressure on Exxon Mobil’s chairman and chief executive, Rex Tillerson, to search for new fields in politically precarious areas of Africa and the Middle East. The sell-off in Exxon stock, as well as other oil company stocks, continued a trend of recent weeks as oil and natural gas prices have fallen sharply from record levels. But investor disappointment was also a response to problems that surfaced in the company’s report, particularly a 10 percent drop in oil production and a 3 percent decline in natural gas production from the second quarter of 2007. The production decrease, the second quarterly drop in a row, was viewed with concern by energy analysts, especially since the company spent $7 billion to find and produce from new fields, nearly 40 percent more than in the same quarter last year. Crude oil prices in the second quarter averaged more than $124 a barrel, 91 percent higher than the same quarter in 2007, according to a recent report by Oppenheimer & Company, an investment bank. Natural gas prices averaged $10.80 for every thousand cubic feet, up 43 percent from the quarter a year ago. After spiking even higher in early July, prices settled on Thursday at $124.08 for oil and about $9.18 for natural gas. Despite its production problems, Exxon earned $10 billion in the quarter from exploration and production, up from $6 billion in the same period a year ago. But the company’s $1.6 billion in profit from refining was less than half that in last year’s quarter because of lower worldwide refining margins. Earnings from its chemical business of $687 million were down $326 million from last year. Company officials said they were working hard to increase production with new projects in Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf of Mexico. The company reported that it intended to disburse $125 billion in capital spending over the next five years in an effort to produce more oil and natural gas. Royal Dutch Shell, Eni and Repsol, three of Europe’s largest oil companies, also reported strong profits on Thursday, although their production results disappointed analysts. Shell reported its output had declined by 1.6 percent in the quarter, and Repsol’s production fell by nearly 20 percent. Eni’s production was slightly higher. Nevertheless Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, reported a 33 percent increase in second-quarter profit, to $11.56 billion, from $8.67 billion in the period a year ago. Oil companies are under pressure to find new reserves as their traditional fields age and they face increasing competition from state-run oil companies in Russia and the Middle East. Shell is also looking to make up for production lost in Nigeria, where militants attacked an offshore production vessel in June, and in Russia, where it had to sell its share in the Sakhalin Island oil and natural gas project to the state-controlled energy company Gazprom last year. Adding together the output of all the major international oil companies, including Chevron, Conoco, BP, Shell, Total and Exxon, this appears to be the fourth straight quarter of production declines, according to Barclays Capital analysts. Barclays said the total decline might exceed 600,000 barrels a day, reflecting the difficulties the oil companies had in gaining access to new regions to make up for the decline of mature fields. (Total will report its results on Friday.) Exxon’s oil and natural gas production tumbled in the second quarter because of Venezuela’s expropriation of Exxon’s assets last year, labor and political strife in Nigeria and declining production in many fields around the world. Meanwhile, under the terms of Exxon’s contracts, governments in Russia, Angola and other places where it operates gained a larger share of production from Exxon and other international companies as crude oil prices rose. With prices now declining, Exxon may show higher production levels in future quarters even if profit is not as robust. Democrats in Congress were quick to criticize Exxon’s profit, hoping that the resentment felt by many drivers over high gasoline and diesel prices could help them in an election year. The company purchased $8 billion of its own shares over the quarter, reducing shares outstanding by 1.7 percent. Kenneth Cohen, an Exxon vice president, said oil companies needed the profits to search for more oil and gas. He also challenged Congress to open up waters in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to drilling, as well as other federal lands where drilling is prohibited. Exxon’s income of $2.22 a share compared with $10.26 billion, or $1.83 a share, in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose 40 percent, to $138.1 billion, from $98.4 billion in the quarter a year ago.

- Forty local high school students graduated from the 27th annual ExxonMobil Green Team program on August 1, equipped with newfound knowledge and an appreciation for the environment and going green. Honored by ExxonMobil, their nonprofit internship coordinators and professors from Southern Methodist University (SMU), the students wrapped up their summer at the Museum of Nature and Science in Fair Park, the site of one of the Green Team’s environmental field trips earlier in the summer. The ExxonMobil Green Team provides a meaningful work experience for high school students from low- to moderate-income households. Students are placed with selected area nonprofits, where they work in teams on environmental and conservation projects.

- If a barrel of light, sweet crude ends a day’s trading at $116 or below, the midyear moonshot will have given way to a bear market, one Americans have never been so happy to see. The 20% downdraft is a scant $3.17 from the commodity’s closing price Tuesday. Oil’s certainly not cheap, but the $145.29 record of early July begins to resemble an anomaly as it recedes in the rear-view mirror. After all, it has been a quick, jarring ride. Just a year ago, oil futures were changing hands at $72. Numerous trends have teamed up to soften the market. Consumers are drained amid credit and housing woes, and crushing gasoline prices have compelled us to conserve. A slowly strengthening dollar is dulling commodities’ allure for traders. Energy angst has hijacked the presidential campaign, prompting schemes that promise only marginal effect on supply. Neither Tropical Storm Edouard nor Iran’s agitator-in-chief have been kicking up a fuss, calming portfolio managers attuned to weather and geopolitics. The bigger oil’s spill, the better the news for the global village, at least in the short run. For one thing, falling transport and fertilizer costs will help people get fed. In the world of Wall Street, it gives breathing room to energy-sensitive sectors and the market as a whole. Look at FedEx shares -- they’re up 15% since mid-July. The Amex airline index has taken off in the same period, with AMR, parent of American Airlines, more than doubling. . . . Yet as the value of oil and gas dwindles, so does the earnings power of oil and gas extractors like Exxon Mobil, Petrobras, Chesapeake Energy and others whose shares have been roughed up lately. Ditto for drilling contractor Transocean, which had jacked up its fees for aiding the oil quest in deep water. Naturally, firms that toil in Canada’s tar sands are mortgaged to high prices because their yield of crude is especially grueling and costly to come by. Consider Suncor, a winner until its peak in late May. Since then, the stock has surrendered more than 40% of its worth. Even solar shares are risky when oil is weak. Solar generates electricity, but investors typically take their cues from the trend in oil. How low can crude go and for how long? Well, the planet remains in a state of energy stress. Think about it: Last year, to take one example, car sales jumped 60% in Russia over 2006, yet global oil output was literally flat at about 85.5 million barrels a day. This short-term price break, however, can stay in place for quite a while. Western economies are sluggish and gas hogs are out of fashion. On the supply side, Asia is hurriedly expanding its refinery fleet. According to the International Energy Agency, global oil output will rise modestly through the rest of the year. Then there’s the nightmare scenario for oil bulls: tensions between Iran and the U.S. ease. Could happen. Should the trend persist long enough to lose its “short-term” handle -- if oil sinks further and stays put -- the world changes, if only around the edges. We’ll drive more, fly more and waste more. The arduous digs in tar, shale and 10,000 feet of water could see more than normal delays and fold-ups. And the alliance of environmentalists and consumers, brought together by pain at the pump, is already coming apart. Clamoring voters can’t be ignored, and more care about their thin wallets now rather than fuzzy ideas that could provide solutions later. If oil slides to almost-reasonable levels, business as usual could make a haunting comeback. Maybe perfecting plug-in cars and alternative fuels isn’t worth all the trouble. Use more, extract less and put renewables on the shelf -- three good ways to ensure that the well runs dry faster. But that’s for someone else to worry about, in the long term.

- Reporters traveling with Senator John McCain were sent a gift by the Democratic National Committee: An “Exxon-McCain ‘08″ campaign kit, complete with an oil barrel-shaped stress ball for scribes theoretically stressed out by their lack of access to a candidate who no longer engages in back-of-the-bus media talk-a-thons. Perhaps needless to point out, the shape of the stress ball was also meant to underscore Mr. McCain’s contributions from oil companies on a day when he is visiting an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico to promote his mantra of more offshore drilling, now. “The facts are indisputable: the best way to stand up for Big Oil is to vote Exxon-McCain ’08,’’ the press release from the Democrats reads. The kit was a retort of sorts to the McCain campaign for handing out tire gauges to reporters inscribed with “Barack Obama Energy Plan,’’ which mocked Senator Barack Obama’s suggestion that Americans inflate their tires to use less gas. Mr. McCain, who once talked so much in the back of his campaign bus that is was difficult for reporters to find time to file their stories, now reserves the bus largely for short stretches for local reporters. Under a more disciplined regime led by Steve Schmidt, a senior campaign adviser, the once-voluble Mr. McCain sticks largely to talking points and holds far fewer news conferences.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced a $3.5-million grant to the Global Health Group at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), to expand its core support for an unprecedented malaria elimination effort in southern Africa. The UCSF Global Health Group and its partners currently provide significant support to Botswana and Swaziland in the development of strategic plans to eliminate malaria from those countries. The Group will use today’s funding from ExxonMobil to build on this support, and expand it to additional southern African countries such as Namibia and Zanzibar. This work, conducted in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, is a cornerstone of the Global Health Group’s Malaria Elimination Initiative, which seeks to eliminate the disease in several countries around the world, working inward from the natural global borders of the disease.


• Upstream news:

• Downstream news:

- ExxonMobil Chemical will improve the supply of its specialty compounds in Asia Pacific following the establishment of a compounding agreement with Resin & Pigment Technologies Pte. Ltd. (R&P), a subsidiary of EnGro Corporation Limited. Under the agreement, R&P will manufacture a broad range of ExxonMobil Chemical’s specialty compounds for use in automotive interior and exterior applications, appliances and consumer products. The R&P facility is located on Jurong Island, Singapore, just two kilometers from ExxonMobil Chemical's petrochemical complex. ExxonMobil Chemical will leverage its global portfolio of specialty plastics and elastomers using the Singapore complex as the primary source of polyolefins for the production of its specialty compounds. The R&P facility is ISO 9001 certified and recently achieved ISO/TS 16949 automotive certification.

- ExxonMobil Aviation Lubricants introduced HyJet V, a fire-resistant aviation hydraulic fluid with higher stability and longer service life than Type IV fluids. HyJet V is the only Type V phosphate ester aviation hydraulic fluid with highest-grade approvals from Airbus and Boeing. HyJet V is approved against Airbus NSA 307110M, Type V, and is the first Type V fluid authorized for use in the Airbus A380’s 5000-psi hydraulic system. It is approved against Boeing BMS 3-11N Type V, Grade A, Boeing-Long Beach DMS 2014H, Type 5, and Bombardier Canadair BAMS 654-003NC, Type V. HyJet V meets SAE AS1241 Type IV and Type V requirements. It is qualified for use in ATR turboprop aircraft and compatible in any ratio with all commercial Type IV and Type V fluids.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced that the world’s first offshore liquefied natural gas or LNG terminal arrived at its final location off the Italian coast, where it will be capable of supplying about 10 percent of Italy’s natural gas requirements. The Adriatic terminal is designed to store and regasify LNG to deliver 775 million cubic feet per day (8 billion cubic meters per year) of clean-burning natural gas when it reaches full operational capacity in 2009. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and members of his cabinet will visit the terminal site tomorrow to mark this major step in meeting Italy's energy demand.

- ExxonMobil Chemical’s Exxtral™ performance polyolefins have been specified for four interior components of the new Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner manufactured by PSA Peugeot Citroën Group. The components include the instrument panel, door panel, and upper and lower trim. PSA Peugeot Citroën Group is the first automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to specify ExxonMobil Chemical’s Exxtral BMU141 polyolefin for use in instrument panels. Exxtral polyolefin was selected because it offers a unique balance of impact strength and stiffness and is easy to mold.

- ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE) announced that it has entered into an agreement with Synthesis Energy Systems (SES) that provides SES the option to execute up to fifteen Methanol to Gasoline technology licenses in their global operations. SES has chosen to assign the first license to a project near Benwood, West Virginia. This approximate 7,000 barrel per calendar day unit will be based on commercially proven MTG technology which incorporates improvements since the technology was originally commercialized by ExxonMobil 20 years ago in New Zealand.

• Business/Finance news:

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced a donation of $1.5 million for disaster relief assistance in Louisiana resulting from Hurricane Gustav. ExxonMobil’s donation is being directed to the American Red Cross and the Capital Area United Way in Baton Rouge, which was among the hardest hit areas.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced a donation of $5 million for disaster relief assistance in communities along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico resulting from Hurricane Ike. ExxonMobil’s donation is being directed to the American Red Cross, the United Way, the Salvation Army and the Texas Disaster Relief Fund, established by Gov. Rick Perry, and follows an earlier donation of $1.5 million for disaster relief assistance in Louisiana resulting from Hurricane Gustav.

- ExxonMobil Production Company announced a donation of $250,000 for disaster relief in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

- Have we forgotten who is already paying most of the taxes? The top 1% pay 40% of taxes (and they earn only 27% of the income). The top 25% pay 85% of taxes. For example, the "evil" Exxon corporation payed $27 billion in taxes last year - an all time record for any US corporation ever, and equal to more than all the taxes paid by the entire lower 50% of American income earners.


• Upstream news:


• Downstream news:

- ExxonMobil Chemical has completed a 130,000 tons per year capacity expansion at its Exxsol hydrocarbon fluids plant in Jurong Island, Singapore, increasing capacity at this site to more than 500,000 tons per year. The new capacity is designed to meet demand for differentiated hydrocarbon fluid products in Asia Pacific, which is growing at an estimated rate of six percent per year. The capacity expansion will provide customers with access to higher volumes of ExxonMobil Chemical’s Exxsol series of differentiated fluids, and its broader portfolio of hydrocarbon fluids including Isopar™ and Solvesso™. Exxsol fluids are specifically formulated to meet diverse customer needs in applications such as drilling mud oil, metal working, polymer processing, industrial cleaning, adhesives, coatings, household products and mining.

- ExxonMobil announced that it has entered into an agreement with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne to develop next-generation technology to convert coal, coke or biomass to synthesis gas (i.e., CO and hydrogen), which could facilitate the use of carbon capture and storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power generation. Under the agreement, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will work together to develop and test new gasification technology to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of converting raw materials into gas. The work focuses on the development of a gasification-reactor system, which has the potential to offer significant advantages compared to conventional approaches. Key features of PWR's rocket-engine expertise -- uniform feed distribution, high temperature combustion and rapid heat removal -- are utilized, resulting in a smaller and more cost effective system.

- ExxonMobil Chemical announced that it has received a leading industry innovation award for its battery separator film technology. The technology, pioneered by a team of ExxonMobil scientists led by Dr. Pat Brant, won the 2008 ICIS Chemical Business award for Best Product Innovation because it can significantly improve the power, capacity, stability and safety margins of lithium-ion batteries. These enhanced performance characteristics can enable the use of these smaller and more powerful batteries in next generation lower emission vehicles. ExxonMobil Chemical produces the film at a plant in Nasu, Japan, and together with Japanese affiliate TonenGeneral, recently broke ground on a new plant in Gumi, South Korea, to meet growing demand for new and existing applications. Government officials were honored guests at a groundbreaking ceremony held October 9. Start-up is expected in 2009.

- ExxonMobil Chemical will demonstrate its leadership in films technology for flexible packaging and highlight solutions that deliver economic, performance and sustainability benefits at booth E7610 at Pack Expo 2008 in Chicago, IL from November 9-13, 2008. ExxonMobil Chemical will showcase its Metallyte™, Bicor™ and Oppalyte™ oriented polypropylene (OPP) films for packaging applications and Label-Lyte™ OPP films for the labeling markets. On display will be new Metallyte metallized OPP films which have been designed to provide economic solutions versus other barrier materials in applications for sensitive dry food and beverage markets. When compared to aluminum foil, these OPP films offer significant sustainability benefits, such as weight reduction. ExxonMobil Chemical has analyzed life cycle inventory data for these substrates which can be seen at the booth.

• Business/Finance news:

- Professor Smart and Dr. Know-it-All will be kicking off the ExxonMobil Let’s Go Science! show with a science day for middle school girls at the State Fair of Texas. In an effort to bring science to life for students, the two zany scientists will perform their interactive show for 175 girls on October 1.

- The ExxonMobil Foundation announced a donation of $1.6 million to launch a pilot program in four New Orleans public high schools to help students prepare for college. The donation to Tulane University will establish a training and incentive program to increase participation in the Advanced Placement Program1 at four public high schools in Orleans Parish over the next five years, starting next spring.

- Five years after oil was first produced from the Doba basin in southern Chad, the Chad Export Project continues to provide significant economic growth and development to the country and its residents. Stephane de Mahieu, general manager, Esso Exploration and Production Chad Inc., an ExxonMobil affiliate, discussed the project’s contributions to the nation at the Chad International Oil, Mining and Energy Conference which will end in N’Djamena. De Mahieu also pointed out that the project has spent $1.8 billion for goods and services from an estimated 2,200 Chadian and Cameroonian businesses since 2000.

- African children smile for the camera, a youngster sips pink medicine from a spoon and a doctor explains his part in a venture to fight malaria, the No. 1 killer on the continent. It’s an effort, he says, that will help save hundreds of thousands of lives. The images look like something out of a health documentary, but it’s a commercial for oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp., for which the doctor is medical projects director. Exxon’s other new ads talk about efforts such as its breakthrough technology for hybrid-electric car batteries. Chevron Corp. is showcasing its geothermal operations. Of the energy challenge, one ad says, “This isn’t just about oil companies. This is about you and me.” The world’s best-known oil companies are pouring on the charm as they get ready this week to parade another round of fat profits before a public that is feeling suddenly poorer. The spotlight will shine on Exxon and Chevron. Such advertising makes sense after a summer with oil at nearly $150 a barrel and a fall likely to bring renewed scrutiny of their investments and tax breaks. But when oil companies spend their money, it’s less about you and me than about their shareholders. In many respects, industry experts note, what’s good for Big Oil’s bottom line isn’t necessarily good for Joe Q. Jetta. “That’s a game that oil companies have been playing for a while, but they’ve been pumping more money into it lately,” said Sheldon Rampton, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy. “They’re hoping to mitigate their bad reputation rather than become beloved.” A few examples in which shareholders have trumped consumers: with world oil production falling behind demand, major oil firms are spending a larger share of their record profits on stock buybacks and dividends rather than increasing supply-boosting exploration; in July, when refiners saw profits squeezed by high oil prices and lower fuel demand, they throttled back production. When hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast, as much as 14% of the nation’s refining capacity was off-line and gasoline inventories were unusually low. Drivers quickly felt the effects; as high diesel prices help put truckers on the road to bankruptcy, refiners have been sending diesel to Europe to fetch a better price. In nearly every industry, shareholder returns regularly win out over the needs of consumers – who may also be shareholders. Energy companies are unusual, though, because the planet hasn’t yet figured out how to get by without their products. And unlike regulated utilities such as Southern California Edison Co. and Pacific Gas & Electric Co., which have a legal duty to consider the needs of ratepayers, oil companies today have little direct connection to the customers who frequent their branded gas stations. Most Shells, Chevrons and the like long ago were sold off to dealers and wholesalers. “It’s a tough, tough business, and that’s why they’ve decided to get out of it,” said John Felmy, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s lobbying group. But, he said, “we do care about consumers. If you don’t care about consumers, you’re not going to stay in business.” That allegiance to consumers is sure to be tested in the next year, as Congress and the public weigh major energy proposals, said Amy Myers Jaffe, energy fellow at Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. “The question is, would consumers be better off if they spent more money on exploration and less money buying back stock? In my opinion, the answer to that question is yes,” Jaffe said. In 1993, the five biggest publicly traded oil companies – Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips – spent 39% of their operating cash flow on development projects, 14% on exploration and only 1% on buying back their own stock. In 2007, they spent 34% on development, 6% on exploration and 34% on stock buybacks, according to a study co-written by Jaffe. In a capitalist market, though, “you could say that it’s not their job to be doing things in the public’s best interest,” Jaffe said. Domestic oil exploration illustrates the point. Congress recently voted to ease long-standing bans on new offshore oil drilling in certain regions. Whether the energy companies pursue any new drilling will depend not on the needs of consumers but on profit considerations such as the price of oil, the cost of the project and estimates of future demand. When oil pushed toward $150 a barrel and natural gas fetched $13 per thousand cubic feet, it was hard to imagine any company having second thoughts about new drilling. But oil prices have slumped below $70 a barrel. Natural gas prices have fallen by nearly half. And the economies of the U.S. and elsewhere are flagging, cutting energy demand. Natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp., whose ads assert that the answer to the nation’s energy crisis is “right under our feet,” isn’t as enthusiastic now. Last month, the company told investors that production was “uneconomic” at today’s prices. So Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake, one of the largest suppliers of U.S. natural gas, cut production by 4% and investment spending by 17% through 2010. The company also is eyeing exports, calling the opportunity for overseas sales “very compelling” for U.S. natural gas companies. This summer’s soaring gasoline and diesel prices and post-hurricane shortages underscored the fragility of the nation’s fuel supplies. Even though the nation’s fuel production runs chronically short of demand, the combination of rising construction costs, sinking demand, greater use of renewable fuels and worsening credit markets have tempered enthusiasm for investments that would pump up output. Last week, Canada’s Connacher Oil & Gas Ltd. shelved plans to more than triple production at its Montana refinery. The project “would have increased diesel supplies in the Northern Rockies and in some Western provinces that at times have been chronically short of diesel,” the Oil Price Information Service said in a subscriber note. Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. fuel maker, is one of the few refiners planning big investments. But like its rivals, the company keeps its focus on the bottom line. The company noted that high gasoline stocks in the spring cut into profit, but the returns on diesel have been “terrific all year,” Chief Executive Bill Klesse told analysts last month. Felmy, the oil industry economist, said some of what refiners are exporting isn’t usable in the U.S. because of clean-air requirements. Profits on gasoline picked up after the hurricanes, in part because several refiners had cut output to reduce inventories and revive profit margins. That decision left the Gulf Coast region with inventories too low to make up for the lost production when hurricanes Gustav and Ike shut refineries. In mid-August – before the first hurricane hit – U.S. refineries operated at nearly 86% of capacity, and gasoline inventories dropped below a 21-day supply – a very small cushion, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. After the hurricanes, refiners’ profits perked up as prices leaped and shortages developed. “Even though prices have leveled off and come down, I think people are still leery of the oil companies,” said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program for Public Citizen, a Washington-based consumer group. “As soon as prices go back up again or we see more record profits, steam will be coming out of people’s ears.”

- ExxonMobil will release its third quarter 2008 earnings on Thursday, October 30, 2008. The news release will be issued over Business Wire.

- The Board of Directors of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) declared a cash dividend of 40 cents per share on the Common Stock, payable on December 10, 2008, to shareholders of record of Common Stock at the close of business on November 12, 2008. This fourth quarter dividend is at the same level as the dividend paid in the third quarter of 2008. Through its dividends, the corporation has shared its success with its shareholders for more than 100 years and has increased its annual dividend payment to shareholders for 26 consecutive years.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation Announces Estimated Third Quarter 2008 Results. Third quarter earnings excluding special items were a record $13,380 million, up 42% from the third quarter of 2007. Earnings per share excluding special items were up 52% reflecting the benefit of the share purchase program. Record net income for the third quarter of $14,830 million was up 58% from the third quarter of 2007. Net income included an after-tax special gain of $1,620 million from the sale of a natural gas transportation business in Germany and an after-tax special charge of $170 million reflecting a provision for interest related to the Valdez punitive damages award. Earnings for the first nine months of 2008 excluding special items were $36,240 million, an increase of 25% over the first nine months of 2007. Net income for the first nine months of 2008 was $37,400 million, up 29% versus 2007.

- Exxon Mobil’s chief, Rex Tillerson, might want to encase the company’s third-quarter earnings release in Lucite — because it’s unlikely to be repeated. While the oil giant raked in a $14.8 billion profit, a new record for a United States corporation, it must now consider buying a rival at home to protect itself from a worsening environment toward Big Oil abroad. The days of $145 a barrel are over, at least for the foreseeable future. With oil now trading at around $65 a barrel, it will become harder to obscure the industry’s biggest challenge: declining reserves and increasingly inhospitable host nations. To wit, Exxon produced 8 percent less oil and gas equivalent last quarter than it did a year earlier. That’s not good when one considers that sky-high prices last quarter should have naturally motivated the company to ramp up production. Some of the decline had to do with events like hurricanes. But lower entitlement volumes — industry parlance for the amount of oil host nations let their private drilling partners skim off — also played a big factor. Exxon faces a further challenge to its profits as falling prices pressure oil-producing nations to keep more of the spoils for themselves. When oil was strong, Venezuela, Russia, Iran and others ramped up their budget spending. As oil prices slide, their budgets risk fall into deficit. Some are already there. Iran, according to Deutsche Bank, needs some $95 a barrel to balance its budget. As a result, governments will try to keep more of their oil to themselves. Brazil, which has offshore fields with enormous reserves, is contemplating the creation of a new state-owned entity to manage them. Earlier, Mexico failed to loosen oil and gas rules that might have opened the doors to foreign companies. Add that to a 26 percent quarterly jump in Exxon’s capital spending, which reflects the difficulty the industry faces in obtaining and exploiting the few new energy reserves it manages to get its drills into, and it’s clear Exxon will need to put some new options on the table. With headwinds like these, it won’t be long before Exxon breaks down and uses its $37 billion cash pile to buy a weaker rival, preferably one with energy assets in the United States, which — at least for now — hasn’t begun to arbitrarily claw back profits from private oil producers.


• Upstream news:

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced its affiliate, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Turkey B.V., has signed an agreement with Turkish national oil company, Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklýðý (TPAO), to explore in two large deepwater blocks offshore Turkey, marking ExxonMobil’s entry into Black Sea exploration. ExxonMobil will become operator during the initial exploration phase and earn a 50 percent interest in the Samsun Block, which measures approximately 2 million acres (8,500 square kilometers) and the eastern portion of 3921 Block, which measures approximately 5 million acres (21,000 square kilometers). Water depths reach an approximate 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). TPAO and ExxonMobil intend to collaborate to merge skills and operational abilities during the development and production phases. Seismic acquisition and evaluation programs for the two blocks are currently being operated by TPAO and are scheduled for completion in 2009. Assignment of the interest to ExxonMobil by TPAO is subject to Turkish government approval.

• Downstream news:

- The Films business of ExxonMobil Chemical has announced the launch of national distributors for its affiliates' oriented polypropylene (OPP) film products in the United States and Canada: Multi-Plastics, Inc., Lewis Center, OH, and Multi-Plastics Canada, Co. These additional sales channels for ExxonMobil Chemical OPP film products combine the strengths of both companies: ExxonMobil Chemical's OPP film innovative technology and quality, and Multi-Plastics' wide national coverage and supply chain expertise, to deliver advantaged customer value to the packaging marketplace. Multi-Plastics, with its American Institute of Baking (AIB) certified facilities in Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, California and Ontario, Canada, is strategically located to provide its customers with the service they require to effectively manage their inventory, and support their immediate and future growth. Most customers will be within two days shipping distance from two of Multi-Plastics' facilities. This local inventory provides a high degree of supply reliability for its customers, supported by Multi-Plastics' national sales force network and centralized Customer Service department in Lewis Center, OH.

- ExxonMobil Chemical’s Vistamaxx™ specialty elastomers and resins targeted at flexible and rigid food packaging applications have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Food Contact Notification process. These grades, used in compounding and films, are also compliant with the compositional requirements of the EU-Directive 2002/72/EC for use in contact with food. Based on ExxonMobil Chemical’s proprietary Exxpol™ metallocene technology, Vistamaxx specialty elastomers and resins offer a unique combination of sealability, adhesion, elasticity, flexibility, clarity and toughness. They also exhibit excellent compatibility with both polyethylene and polypropylene and are used as blend partners.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (NYSE:XOM) Billings Refinery has received the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) certification for efforts to conserve and restore natural ecosystems in and around company operations. This was one of four ExxonMobil sites awarded including others in Texas, New Jersey and Wyoming. When WHC was formed in 1988, the founders conceived a new and innovative concept of bringing together conservation and business. This was the first cooperative effort between the environmental community and industry.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (NYSE:XOM) Black Canyon Dehydration Facility has received the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) certification for efforts to conserve and restore natural ecosystems in and around company operations. This was one of four ExxonMobil sites awarded including others in Texas, New Jersey and Montana and marks the second time the site has received this prestigious honor. When WHC was formed in 1988, the founders conceived a new and innovative concept of bringing together conservation and business. This was the first cooperative effort between the environmental community and industry.

• Business/Finance news:

- The Board of Directors of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced changes to its Corporate Governance Guidelines to enhance the role of presiding director. Under the changes, a presiding director is selected by non-employee directors from among their members and would generally be expected to serve a minimum term of two years. Non-employee directors selected Samuel J. Palmisano, chairman, president and chief executive officer of IBM Corporation, to be presiding director, effective immediately.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (NYSE:XOM) Clinton Research Facility has received the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) certification for efforts to conserve and restore natural ecosystems in and around company operations. This was one of four ExxonMobil sites awarded including others in Texas, Montana and Wyoming and marks the third time the site has received this prestigious honor. When WHC was formed in 1988, the founders conceived a new and innovative concept of bringing together conservation and business. This was the first cooperative effort between the environmental community and industry.

- Wracked by the global financial meltdown, American businesses, unable to borrow because of the credit crunch and watching helplessly as their stock prices plummet, have been anxiously awaiting a change in administrations - either Barack Obama or John McCain. On Tuesday they got the Democrat, Obama. Is this good or bad for businesses? Economists and business experts, judging by what Obama said during the campaign, said Wednesday that the answer largely depends on the industry a particular company happens to be in. And, said Pearl Kamer, an economist for the Long Island Association, the answer also depends on how much money Obama will have available to spend for new, big programs, given the state of the economy. But companies that could do well under Obama's administration include those in the alternative-energy industry. He has proposed spending $150 billion over 10 years to speed the development of plug-in hybrid cars and "commercial-scale" renewable energy. The nuclear energy industry, however, might not fare so well under Obama. Big Oil is not likely to fare well either, experts said. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. may face higher taxes under Obama, who supports a windfall profit tax. The big oil companies have posted record profit gains in recent quarters, which is unlikely to help their case with Obama. Labor unions are expected to benefit from Obama and a stronger Democratic majority in Congress. Experts said unions could achieve one of their prime goals: passage of legislation to require companies to recognize unions once a majority of employees sign cards supporting them. The AFL-CIO's Web site Wednesday cheered Obama's victory. "Barack Obama brings new hope to America's working families, and our increased majority in the Senate means we can translate that hope into reality," the Web site said. However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposes any such measure, saying it would prefer a vote on union representation. If money is available, experts said, some of it will be used to boost the health care industry, in particular research into the use of stem cells and the creation of more generic drugs. But defense contractors may struggle as Obama seeks a way out of the Iraq conflict and attempts to make more money available to fix this country's roads, bridges and public transit systems. "There's going to be pressure on him to get out of Iraq and save money" on costly weapons systems, said Don Selkin, chief market strategist for National Securities Corp., investment advisers in Manhattan. The Bush administration is spending about $10 billion a month on the war in Iraq. Hedge funds, which played a major role in the buildup to the financial crisis, will face regulation, experts said. Financial companies and banks also may be more regulated. There may also be more help for the battered auto industry. Obama expressed support recently for doubling a loan program for automakers to develop fuel-saving technology to $50 billion from $25 billion. Experts said automakers may receive some kind of government aid to protect millions of jobs, which could be in danger if General Motors buys Chrysler. Marvin Goodfriend, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said that Obama may try to apply the brakes on America's rapidly growing deficit, which the Bush administration in July forecast would hit a record $482 billion, excluding costs associated with the financial crisis. Kamer said that the process of emerging from the global financial crisis could take two or three years or more, and that money would be tight until the financial clouds lift. "The major constraint [on Obama] will be the scarcity of resources," Kamer said. "That's going to hurt Long Island, because we're a small-business economy," and borrowing has been extremely difficult. Stock markets, however, may be healthier, Selkin said. Since 1900, the Dow Jones industrial average has risen an average of 9.8 percent in the 12 months after the Democrats gained the White House. Under Republicans, the Dow has risen only 2.5 percent in the same time period.

- Four Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) facilities have received the Wildlife Habitat Council’s (WHC) certification for efforts to conserve and restore natural ecosystems in and around company operations. The company’s headquarters in Irving, Texas, the Billings Refinery in Billings, Montana, the Clinton Research Facility in Clinton Township, New Jersey, and the Black Canyon Dehydration Facility in Kemmerer, Wyoming, received the prestigious awards. When WHC was formed in 1988, the founders conceived a new and innovative concept of bringing together conservation and business. This was the first cooperative effort between the environmental community and industry.

- Six years of relentlessly rising prices have showered the oil industry with record profits even as whipsawing energy costs have left many Americans alternately furious and baffled. But while Exxon is slowly unshackling itself from Mr. Raymond’s stance on global warming, it remains faithful to his legacy by dismissing most green alternatives and sticking with hydrocarbons. Although the company’s tone has changed, its strategy has not. Despite growing pressures on oil companies to invest in alternative energy, Exxon’s long-term view remains unapologetically tied to fossil fuels. “Rex looks more approachable than his predecessor,” says a rival executive who requested anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize his relationship with Mr. Tillerson, “but he is more inflexible.” Exxon’s belief is that as populations expand and economies grow in developing countries, they will aspire to the comforts and amenities taken for granted in industrialized nations, and this will mean more cars on the roads — and more oil to power them. According to Exxon’s own outlook, global oil demand is set to reach 116 million barrels a day by 2030, up sharply from 86 million barrels a day today. Meanwhile, renewable fuels, like solar, wind and biofuels, will grow at a brisk pace but they will account for just 2 percent of the world’s energy supplies by then, according to Exxon, while oil, gas and coal will represent 80 percent of global energy needs by 2030. “For the foreseeable future — and in my horizon that is to the middle of the century — the world will continue to rely dominantly on hydrocarbons to fuel its economy,” Mr. Tillerson says. For the moment, Exxon does not see much business sense in investing in solar, as BP has, or wind, like Shell, or geothermal, like Chevron. Like many oil executives, Mr. Tillerson also has little sympathy for corn-based ethanol, which he once derisively referred to as “moonshine.” Exxon does not entirely close the door to alternative investments someday. But its previous forays into renewable fuels — it was a big investor in nuclear power, synthetic fuels and solar energy in the 1970s — are seen as a costly lesson. “Being first in something is not necessarily the best position to be in,” Mr. Tillerson says. “You can be more profitable for your shareholders by coming at a later stage.” Still, Exxon sees itself as a technology-based company. Its labs are developing a thin-film battery separator and an onboard hydrogen system that could increase the range of electric cars or make the current internal combustion engines much more efficient. The company points out that it has invested more than $1.5 billion to improve its own energy use and cut carbon emissions since 2004. And it boasts that it is spending $100 million to finance a long-term research program at Stanford University, along with General Electric, Toyota and the oilfield-services company Schlumberger, to find ways to increase energy supplies while reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. But to many of the company’s critics, these measures look like a convenient smoke screens. "That’s kind of laughable,” says Mr. Davies of Greenpeace. “What Exxon is clearly saying is that we are addicted to oil.” The biggest area where Exxon may have an impact in tackling climate change is in what the industry calls carbon capture and sequestration. Most climate experts say that combating global warming will involve preventing heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide from being spewed into the atmosphere by capturing them and pumping them underground. In May, Exxon said it would invest $100 million in a demonstration plant in Wyoming to test a new cryogenic technology to capture carbon dioxide by freezing it. Managing these flows, and reducing the costs of this prohibitively expensive technology, may ultimately create a new business for Exxon if it can apply it to large emission sources, like coal-fired power plants. But for the company to see this as a large-scale opportunity would require a “cultural leap,” Ms. Jaffe says. “Exxon may wind up being the carbon sequestration king, by accident,” she says. Whatever shape Exxon’s business model takes, analysts say it is unlikely that the company will get there quiet “They are tough, and they have the reputation of being an unyielding company,” says Michelle Michot Foss, who heads the Center for Energy Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. “But it’s a tough business. They are criticized for being too conservative. But they are very patient, and probably in the long term that pays off.”


• Upstream news:

­- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) announced its affiliate, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Romania Limited, has signed an agreement with Petrom SA to help explore deepwater portions of the Neptun Block offshore Romania. The Petrom agreement is ExxonMobil’s second major exploration venture announced in the promising Black Sea in two weeks. ExxonMobil and Petrom, the largest Romanian oil and gas company and a member of the OMV group, agreed to cooperate on a 3D seismic acquisition and evaluation program of the Neptun Block. Petrom will operate the initial work program. ExxonMobil will help fund the work program and provide expertise in evaluating the deepwater seismic data.

- ExxonMobil announced that the Sakhalin-1 project has earned the Excellence in Project Integration Award from the committees and sponsoring societies of the International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC). The award recognizes the project for successfully integrating geoscience knowledge; reservoir and production engineering; construction and facilities engineering practices; safety, health and environmental processes; human resources policies; community programs; and overall project teamwork.

• Downstream news:

- ExxonMobil Refining & Supply announced it will invest more than $1 billion in three refineries to increase the supply of cleaner burning diesel by about six million gallons per day. The company will construct new units and modify existing facilities at its Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Baytown, Texas; and Antwerp, Belgium, refineries. This investment is the latest phase in ExxonMobil's efforts to increase supplies and reduce the sulfur content of both motor gasoline and diesel. In 2000, the company began an integrated approach to convert and modify refineries, terminals and pipelines to provide ultra low sulfur fuel products. By 2010, the refineries’ modifications and expansions are expected to be completed, increasing production of diesel with sulfur levels of 15 parts per million (ppm) or less.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation’s (NYSE:XOM) technology leadership in liquefied natural gas or LNG has resulted in an industry breakthrough in carrier design and size, enabling the more efficient transport of natural gas to markets throughout the world. The recent completion of the world’s first Q-Max LNG carrier, named ‘Mozah,’ marks a step change in LNG shipping by reducing transportation cost, while improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions. The innovative Q-Max ships carry up to 80 percent more cargo, yet require approximately 40 percent less energy per unit of cargo than conventional LNG carriers due to economies of scale and efficiency of the engines.

• Business/Finance news:

- ExxonMobil is pleased to announce that its employees and companies in the Metropolitan D.C. area have set a campaign record by raising over $2.49 million for non-profits during its recently concluded "Employees' Favorite Charities Campaign."

- An integrated series of solutions will be required to manage increases in global energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions that will result from population growth and economic expansion, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) said, releasing the corporation’s Outlook for Energy: A View to 2030. The Outlook for Energy is developed annually, and is the product of an ongoing process that has been conducted over decades. The results are used to assist ExxonMobil's business planning and to increase public understanding of the world's energy needs and challenges. The outlook is developed through a detailed analysis of approximately 100 countries, 15 demand sectors and 20 fuel types and is underpinned by economic and population projections and expectations of significant energy efficiency improvements and technology advancements. This year’s Outlook for Energy has been expanded to include a new section, entitled the Energy Imperative, which contains a detailed examination of integrated solutions that include improved energy efficiency, development of all viable forms of energy, and technology and public policy options to manage climate risk.

- ExxonMobil and Africare announced that they have commenced work on a $1.75 million three-year project designed to empower rural women in southern Chad by developing their entrepreneurial capacity in small business development and income generation projects, obtaining micro-credit, and accessing markets. The project will be the largest single contribution to-date under the ExxonMobil Foundation’s Educating Women and Girls Initiative for a women's economic development project.

- ExxonMobil announced that its total corporate, employee and retiree contributions to the United Way in the Houston and Baytown areas reached a record total of $17 million. The announcement was made during a celebration at NCI Ripley House Community Center where checks for $11.3 million and $1.7 million were presented to the United Way of Greater Houston and United Way of Baytown, respectively. The company also contributed $4 million through ExxonMobil Volunteer Involvement Program grants earned by employee and retiree volunteers at various United Way affiliated agencies as well as through gifts-in-kind donations, corporate loaned executives and administrative personnel to assist with the heavy work load at already burdened social service agencies. An additional $2.5 million contribution was made to the United Way Hurricane Ike Recovery Fund earlier this year. All these funds will assist in developing youth to their full potential, creating strong families and safe neighborhoods, sustaining senior independence and supporting people rebuilding their lives.

- Market-based policies with a long-term focus will enable the energy industry to fulfill its essential role in America’s energy future and economic recovery, Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), said. Tillerson said the magnitude of the energy challenge facing America and the world is outlined in ExxonMobil’s Outlook for Energy: A View to 2030, which was released last week. The Outlook for Energy forecasts that growing populations and expanding economies will increase global energy needs by 35 percent between 2005 and 2030, requiring an integrated series of solutions to meet demand while managing greenhouse gas emissions.

- Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) confirmed that it has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve certain stipulated penalties alleged to be due under the New Source Review Consent Decree signed in December, 2005. This agreement requires payment of approximately $6 million in penalties, most of which are associated with alleged non-compliances with New Source Performance Standards Subpart J (NSPS J) on three heaters at the Baytown Refinery. ExxonMobil's Baytown Refinery had conducted a comprehensive review of the Baytown fuel gas system in late 2004/early 2005. It was believed that all fuel gas streams and associated combustion devices subject to NSPS J had been identified and addressed in the Consent Decree agreement. However, while performing an environmental self-audit in November 2006 Baytown Refinery became aware that a small number of streams (potentially subject to NSPS J requirements) had not been specifically addressed in the Consent Decree. Environmental impacts associated with this item were very minor and all streams now meet the NSPS J standard. ExxonMobil proactively self-reported this finding to the EPA. The agreement also included penalties for several minor items at the Baton Rouge, Beaumont and Torrance refineries.

- For the ninth year, the ExxonMobil Educational Alliance Program has provided grants to local schools across the nation. This year the tradition continues, with 4,000 $500 grants totaling $2 million being awarded to K-12 educational institutions in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

Go to Oil Company News