In March 2018, ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) announced a bold vision for the future. The oil behemoth planned to increase its investment spending rate over the next several years, which it believed would unleash a torrent of new production and cash flow. In the company's view, it could double its earnings and cash flow from 2017's level by 2025, assuming no changes in oil prices.
Fast-forward one year, Exxon now expects to deliver an even bigger surge in profitability over that time frame. Here's a look at where the oil giant plans to be five years from now.
An even bigger upstream oil and gas behemoth
ExxonMobil produced 3.8 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/D) in 2018. The company sees that number rising to roughly 5.2 million BOE/D by 2025, or a more than 36% increase over that time frame.
That's a bit better than the 5 million BOE/D the company initially forecast for 2025 thanks to its successes over the past year. Two factors now have the company on track to produce an even larger gusher of production. First, it has found even more oil offshore Guyana. It made five discoveries last year and two more so far in 2019, bringing the total to 12 that hold an estimated 5.5 BOE of recoverable resources. That's a big enough base to support five floating production platforms (up from its initial view of three), which should produce more than 750,000 BOE/D for Exxon and its partners by 2025.
The second driver of Exxon's enhanced long-term outlook is the Permian Basin. Initially, Exxon thought it could grow its output in this region up to 600,000 BOE/D by 2025. However, it now sees its production topping 1 million BOE/D by 2024, fueled in part by greater confidence in its resources after a year of drilling and appraising not only its legacy acreage but the land it acquired in 2017.
Those two main fuels have Exxon on track to triple its upstream earnings by 2025 assuming a flat $60 oil price. Meanwhile, the company sees its upstream cash flows growing by a 7% annual pace over that time frame.
A downstream refining and chemicals giant
In addition to being one of the largest oil and gas producers in the world, Exxon is a major oil refiner and petrochemical producer. Those operations enable the company to maximize the value of its production as it turns oil and gas into higher-valued products like diesel and the building blocks for plastics.
One of Exxon's aims in the coming years is to expand its downstream capacity, especially in the U.S. so that it can take advantage of North America's gusher of low-cost oil and gas resources. The company outlined several goals last year that would enable it to make even more money on these downstream activities by 2025.
On the refining side, Exxon wanted to invest in midstream infrastructure in the Permian Basin to increase the flow of that low-cost oil to its refineries along the Gulf Coast, which it intended on expanding. The company took important steps forward on both goals last year. On the midstream side, the company and its partners sanctioned the Wink to Webster pipeline that will move more than 1 million barrels of oil per day (BPD) from the Permian to the Texas Coast by 2021. Exxon also took a major step toward increasing its refining capacity by approving the expansion of its Beaumont refinery by 250,000 BPD. That will bring the facility's total capacity to 616,000 BPD, making it the country's largest refinery. It's one of six refinery expansions the company expects to start up by 2025.
On the chemicals side, the company plans to have 13 new facilities on line by the end of 2025, which should grow sales by 30%. Exxon made excellent progress on moving forward with those projects in the last year, including sanctioning a new $2 billion expansion of its chemical plant in Baytown, Texas, last month. As a result, the company remains on track with its bold chemicals expansion program.
An even greater earnings and cash flow gusher await
When Exxon released its initial vision for 2025, the company thought it could double earnings from 2017's level in that time frame assuming oil remained flat at around $60 a barrel. However, thanks to its successes over the past year, the energy giant now sees earnings growing 140% by 2025 under that same oil-price scenario. In the meantime, it expects to produce more than $190 billion in free cash flow during that period, which is enough money to cover its 4.7%-yielding dividend with $90 billion to spare. That leaves it with plenty of excess cash to buy back its shares, which have surprisingly declined by double digits in the last year despite all that progress. That makes the oil giant an even more compelling oil stock to consider buying these days.