Earlier this year, ExxonMobil (XOM -0.65%) unveiled an aggressive long-term growth plan that would see it double earnings and cash flow by 2025 without any help from higher oil prices. That strategy gives investors a clear road map of the company's future. Here's a look at what they can expect from the energy giant in the next five years.
The fuel to grow at a fast pace
ExxonMobil plans to take a multipronged approach to double its profitability in the coming years by expanding its upstream, downstream, and chemicals businesses. The oil giant expects to invest $24 billion on capital projects this year, with that ramping up to $28 billion in 2019 before averaging around $30 billion annually in the 2020 to 2025 time frame.
Exxon will invest the largest portion of this capital on the upstream side, where it expects to grow its production volumes from around 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/D) up to 5 million BOE/D by 2025. The company believes this will triple its upstream earnings without any improvement in oil prices since Exxon will focus on investing in its highest margin opportunities. Fueling the oil company's upstream growth would be the continued development of the Permian Basin as well as the start-up of 25 major projects across the world.
In the Permian Basin, Exxon expects to grow its production fivefold to as much as 800,000 BOE/D by continuing to drill new wells in the region. Exxon is supporting its ambitious expansion plan in the Permian by making strategic investments to ensure the development of new midstream assets so that it has open access to markets along the Gulf Coast as its output grows.
Meanwhile, Exxon is also investing in several needle-moving projects around the world. One of the most important is the development of its massive offshore oil discovery in Guyana. The company holds a 45% interest in this field and currently expects to build five offshore platforms that could produce 750,000 BOE/D by 2025. The company and its partners plan to finish the first phase next year, and already have two more in development, which could start up by mid-2022 and as early as 2023, respectively.
Investing downstream to take advantage of its resource base
Another key aspect of Exxon's strategic growth plan is investing to expand the capacity of its refining and chemicals businesses, which are both expected to double their earnings by 2025. The company plans to spend more than $20 billion to expand these operations in the U.S. alone in the coming years. One project it's considering is expanding its refinery in Beaumont, Texas, which could nearly double that facility's capacity to more than 665,000 barrels per day by 2022. That would make it the largest refinery in the country. Meanwhile, Exxon recently approved a $1.9 billion expansion of its Baytown petrochemical complex, which would add a new plastics processing plant that should start up by 2023. Finally, Exxon formed a joint venture with Saudi Arabia's SABIC to build a new multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant in Texas, which could commence operations by 2022.
Exxon also plans to grow its downstream operations overseas. The company is investing in some projects at its Rotterdam refinery in the Netherlands that should double that facility's margins by early next year. Exxon also has refinery projects planned in Singapore, Belgium, and the U.K. that should start up in the 2020 to 2024 time frame. Meanwhile, the company has a petrochemical complex in Asia that should also come online during that period.
A more profitable company even if oil doesn't budge
ExxonMobil expects to grow its earnings by a significant amount over the next five years as it invests in expansion projects across its three business segments. Not only will these investments boost its profits, but they should support additional dividend increases and share repurchases. That combination of earnings growth and increasing shareholder returns could create significant value for investors in the coming years even if oil prices remain volatile, making Exxon a compelling energy stock to consider for the long term.