Platts – Exxon Mobil Corp., which survived battered and bruised from the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster in Alaska in 1989, which fought a contentious battle beginning in the 1990s over climate science, and which has to deal with the political uncertainties in some of the countries in which it operates, is facing a new political risk in the emerging debate in the U.S. regarding hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- for deep natural gas resources, the author of a new book on the company said Sunday. Comments were made on the all-energy news and talk program Platts Energy Week.
Steve Coll, author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, said in an interview on Platts Energy Week that the company, through its 2010 purchase of independent producer XTO Energy, has become a leading player in gas production in the United States.
"Now they are going to have to deal with a different kind of political risk" than it has faced in the past, "which is the risk of environmental resistance to fracking techniques and the emerging public debate about the benefits of this gas resource and also the potential risks of it," Coll told program host Bill Loveless.
ExxonMobil in June 2010 completed its $31 billion acquisition of U.S. natural gas producer XTO, which at the time was the second-largest U.S. gas producer. The deal gave ExxonMobil a stake in the burgeoning U.S. shale plays that have been a major part of the revival of the onshore oil and gas production sector in the country.
ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, who spearheaded that deal, which was a departure from the oil-focused model he inherited from his predecessor, Lee Raymond, said at the time that the takeover was, "good news for the United States as it will help produce more of America's own clean-burning natural gas, which brings with it innovation, technology, investment and jobs."