Exxon Mobil says demand for fossil fuels will stay high

Oil and natural gas giant Exxon Mobil said fossil fuels will continue to meet a vast portion of the world's energy needs in coming decades.

The Irving, Texas, company said in a report it issued Monday that the global appetite for oil and gas will stay high despite efforts around the globe to control pollution and encourage renewable energy.

The report was issued in response to shareholders' worries that tighter controls on carbon emissions could slash the value of fossil fuels in the future. Exxon agreed earlier this month to publish information on the risks imposed by possible policy measures.

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The world will require 35% more energy in 2040 than in 2010, according to the report. Although Exxon says it expects renewable sources such as wind and solar to grow at the fastest clip through that period, many people will continue to rely on more affordable sources of energy, such as oil and gas.

Exxon pointed out that energy systems and infrastructure historically have evolved slowly, from wood to coal to oil. That trend will continue with renewable energy, the company said. 

"It was not until the middle of the 20th century before oil overtook coal as the primary source of energy," the report said. "We believe the transition to lower carbon energy sources will also take time."

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In the next few decades, Exxon said, the higher costs associated with energy sources such as wind and solar will slow their ability to be a big competitor to fossil fuels "even when higher costs of carbon are considered."

"We do not anticipate society being able to supplant traditional carbon-based forms of energy with other energy forms, such as renewables," the report said.


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