Exxon Mobil wants to supply enough lithium to manufacture than a million electric vehicle batteries per year, the oil giant announced Monday.
Exxon has reportedly been in negotiations for months with Tesla, Ford and Volkswagen, as well as electronics giant Samsung and South Korean battery manufacturer SK On. Discussions with battery manufacturers are ongoing, the company said in a statement.
It hopes to become a leading supplier of the silvery white metal, beginning production in 2027.
The product will be branded Mobil Lithium, building on Mobil’s long history of technical partnerships with the automotive industry, the company said.
“Lithium is essential to the energy transition, and ExxonMobil has a leading role to play in paving the way for electrification,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. “This landmark project applies decades of ExxonMobil expertise to unlock vast supplies of North American lithium with far fewer environmental impacts than traditional mining operations.”
In July, Exxon Mobil struck a deal to develop 6,100 acres in Arkansas with Tetra Technologies for lithium production. And earlier this year, it purchased 100,000 acres in Arkansas from Galvanic Energy for lithium extraction from brine.
The company said it would use conventional oil and gas drilling methods to extract lithium-rich brine from about 10,000 feet underground. It would then separate lithium from the saltwater on site. The technology Exxon Mobil plans to use for this process remains under development.
Lithium producers and industry consultants have been warning of a looming shortage for years. Albemarle, the world’s largest lithium producer, has forecast that global lithium demand will exceed supply by 500,000 metric tons in 2030.
The effort comes as Exxon Mobil and all the major oil companies have faced protests and lawsuits from climate activists. Exxon has previously announced plans to invest $17 billion through 2027 on carbon capture and biofuels in addition to hydrogen. Rivals Shell and BP have focused on wind and solar.
“The project,” said Ammann, “is a perfect example of how ExxonMobil can enhance North American energy security, expand supplies of a critical industrial material, and enable the continued reduction of emissions associated with transportation, which is essential to meeting society’s net-zero goals.”