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The Future of Energy, According to ExxonMobil

By Bob Ciura – Jan 15, 2014 at 9:10AM

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Here's what the biggest energy company in the world has to say about the global energy outlook through 2040.

Integrated energy giant ExxonMobil (XOM -0.35%) is one of the biggest companies in the world. Naturally, it has a great deal to say about the current state of energy as well as what the future holds. And, because it's such an influential company, it's probably a good idea to take its views seriously.

ExxonMobil has revealed its energy outlook spanning the next 36 years. There are some surprising findings inside ExxonMobil's Outlook for Energy research report that you may not know. Here are some of the most important things the world's biggest energy company expects over the coming decades.

All forms of energy are required to meet growing demand
By 2040, global energy demand is expected to increase 35%. This sharp rise in energy demand is driven primarily by global population growth. ExxonMobil projects the world's population to reach 9 billion by 2040, from 7 billion currently. In addition, economic growth means additional energy consumption. ExxonMobil believes the world's economy will double by 2040, which represents an annual growth rate of approximately 3%.

Clearly, ExxonMobil will be there to meet the world's seemingly unquenchable thirst for oil. While oil is to remain the world's main energy source, other forms—including natural gas, nuclear, and renewables—are gaining traction as well. In particular, natural gas shows great promise. According to the report, natural gas will remain the fastest-growing major fuel source. Demand is projected to rise by 65%, and will likely account for more than a quarter of all global energy supply by 2040.

This will benefit ExxonMobil, as it's now a major player in natural gas thanks to its $41 billion purchase of XTO Energy in 2009. When Exxon made the acquisition, XTO was the nation's largest holder of natural gas reserves. At the same time, other integrated majors will profit handsomely from the natural gas boom, including Chevron (CVX -0.29%). Chevron has made a huge investment in natural gas over the past several years, which allowed it to produce 5.07 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2012.

Going forward, Chevron will increase production exponentially over the next decade. This will be achieved specifically by its Gorgon Project in Australia, which includes a 15 million metric-ton-per-year liquefied natural gas facility.

Efficiencies and technological advancements are key to meeting demand
ExxonMobil expects the global demand for oil will increase 25% by 2040. To meet this demand, the energy industry faces an enormous amount of pressure. Thankfully, rapid technological advancements developed in recent years allows for oil to be extracted and processed from previously hard-to-reach locations. Specifically, ExxonMobil cites advanced techniques that now enable extremely successful deep water drilling from extremely harsh environments.

Clearly, oil drillers will play a crucial role in this, as the demand for ultra-deepwater and harsh environment rigs is already heating up. Drillers see these trends unfolding and are quickly positioning themselves to benefit. Consider that Transocean (RIG -0.25%) has significantly transitioned its business model toward building rigs specifically designed for harsh environments and ultra-deepwater drilling. As of Transocean's 2013 Investor Day presentation, it held a $29.8 billion contract backlog. Of this, $21.7 billion, or nearly three-quarters, is allocated for ultra-deepwater rigs.

The road to 2040 will be paved with profits
ExxonMobil has some striking findings about what the future has in store for energy. As global populations and economies expand, so too will the demand for energy. Oil will remain atop the list of energy sources, but other forms such as natural gas will be relied upon heavily.

Rising global energy demand mean there's plenty of profits to go around. As a result, it's clear that energy companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Transocean have bright futures ahead.

Bob Ciura has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Chevron. The Motley Fool owns shares of Transocean. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

ExxonMobil Stock Quote
$113.21 (-0.35%) $0.40
Chevron Stock Quote
$183.70 (-0.29%) $0.54
Transocean Stock Quote
$4.06 (-0.25%) $0.01

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