MRC -- ExxonMobil Corp. (Houston) said today it has started work on the first phase of a lithium production complex in southwest Arkansas and intends to become a leading global producer of lithium, said the company.
The company is targeting lithium production by 2027 and is “evaluating growth opportunities globally.” By 2030, ExxonMobil aims to be producing enough lithium to supply “well over 1 million electric vehicles [EVs] per year.” Demand for lithium is expected to quadruple by 2030, according to ExxonMobil. Demand is surging on rapid growth in EV and energy storage battery markets.
“Lithium is essential to the energy transition, and ExxonMobil has a leading role to play in paving the way for electrification,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. “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.”
ExxonMobil said it is drilling the first well at the site in Arkansas and will use direct lithium extraction (DLE) to extract lithium. ExxonMobil notes the process uses conventional oil and gas drilling methods to access lithium-rich saltwater from reservoirs about 10,000 feet underground. Lithium will be converted on-site to battery-grade material, the company said.
In early 2023, ExxonMobil acquired the rights to 120,000 gross acres of the Smackover formation in southern Arkansas, which it said is one of the most prolific lithium brine resources in North America.
Nearly all lithium today is produced outside of North America, in Western Australia, South America and China. South America uses lithium-rich brine deposits and Western Australia and China use hard rock deposits.
We remind, Exxon Mobil Corp posted a sharply lower USD9.1 billion third-quarter profit, missing analysts’ estimates for the second quarter in a row, and off 54% from a year ago. Earnings by the largest U.S. oil producer have benefited from higher crude oil prices compared to the previous quarter and greater demand for gasoline and diesel, but prices are well off record year-ago levels.