While doubling down on crude oil production, especially closer to home, ExxonMobil unveiled plans on Monday to produce lithium in Arkansas, aiming to become a leading supplier of the key metal for electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030.
Exxon announced plans to become a leading producer of lithium, the U.S. oil and gas supermajor said in a statement.
The company has already begun work on a first phase of its North American lithium production in southwest Arkansas, an area known to hold significant lithium deposits.
Southwestern Arkansas could be the lithium production hotspot of America the way the Permian is now for oil, as mining companies and oil and gas supermajors are looking to tap more of the domestic U.S. lithium resources to reduce dependence on China.
In early 2023, ExxonMobil acquired the rights to 120,000 gross acres of the Smackover formation in southern Arkansas, which is considered one of the most prolific lithium resources of its type in North America.
“The product offer will be branded as Mobil Lithium, building on the rich history of deep technical partnership between Mobil and the automotive industry,” Exxon said today.
The supermajor plans to use direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology to separate lithium from saltwater, after using conventional oil and gas drilling methods to access lithium-rich saltwater from reservoirs about 10,000 feet underground.
“This landmark project applies decades of ExxonMobil expertise to unlock vast supplies of North American lithium with far fewer environmental impacts than traditional mining operations,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions.
Exxon targets its first lithium production for 2027 and is evaluating further growth opportunities in lithium globally.
“By 2030, ExxonMobil aims to be producing enough lithium to supply the manufacturing needs of well over a million EVs per year,” it said, adding that discussions with potential customers, including EV and battery manufacturers, are ongoing.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com