Fossil Fuels Aren’t Going Anywhere – by David Gelles (New York Times – October 12, 2023)

Exxon’s $60 billion acquisition doubles down on oil and gas.

It wasn’t long ago that big fossil fuel companies were making bold claims about their plans to embrace a low-carbon future. Yet over the past year, many of those companies have walked back those commitments as they reaped outsize profits and made ambitious plans to expand their production of oil and gas.

On Wednesday, Exxon Mobil signed a $60 billion deal to buy Pioneer Natural Resources, a company that made its fortune through fracking. The acquisition — Exxon’s biggest in almost 25 years, and the biggest corporate purchase of 2023 — represents a very expensive bet that fossil fuels will remain a central part of the global economy for the foreseeable future.

“As the world looks to transition and find lower sources of affordable energy with lower emissions, fossil fuels oil and gas are going to continue to play a role over time,” Exxon Mobil chief executive Darren Woods told CNBC. “That may diminish with time. The rate of that is, I think, not very clear at this stage. But it will be around for a long time.”

Like it or not, Exxon’s bet looks like a sound one. While wind turbines and solar panels are proliferating faster than many people realize, fossil fuel extraction is also expanding around the globe. Hundreds of new oil and gas projects have been approved in the past year.

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