ExxonMobil initiates first lithium well drilling in Arkansas

ExxonMobil initiates first lithium well drilling in Arkansas

ExxonMobil Corporation, a global leader in the energy sector, announced plans to become a leading producer of lithium.

Lithium is essential to the production of lithium-ion batteries, which are used in electric vehicles, consumer electronics, energy storage systems and other clean energy technologies. Demand for lithium is expected to quadruple by 2030, and virtually all lithium today is produced outside of North America.

Work has begun for the company’s first phase of North America lithium production in southwest Arkansas, an area known to hold significant lithium deposits. The product offer will be branded as Mobil™ Lithium, building on the rich history of deep technical partnership between Mobil and the automotive industry.

This groundbreaking initiative marks a significant shift in the company’s exploration strategy and underscores its commitment to diversifying energy resources.

“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.”

The company is targeting its first lithium production for 2027 and is evaluating growth opportunities globally. By 2030, ExxonMobil aims to be producing enough lithium to supply the manufacturing needs of more than one million EVs per year. Discussions with potential customers, including EV and battery manufacturers, are ongoing.

The Arkansas Lithium Project

In early 2023, ExxonMobil acquired the rights to 120,000 gross acres of the Smackover formation in southern Arkansas – considered one of the most prolific lithium resources of its type in North America. 

Located in the natural brine deposits of Arkansas, ExxonMobil’s lithium well project aims to extract lithium efficiently and sustainably. This initiative not only positions ExxonMobil at the forefront of lithium extraction but also contributes to the economic development of Arkansas.

The project is designed with a keen focus on minimising environmental impact while maximising resource efficiency. ExxonMobil’s investment in Arkansas also promises to create job opportunities and boost local economies.

After using conventional oil and gas drilling methods to access lithium-rich saltwater from reservoirs about 10,000 feet underground, ExxonMobil will utilise direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology to separate lithium from the saltwater. The lithium will then be converted onsite to battery-grade material. The remaining saltwater will be re-injected into the underground reservoirs. The DLE process produces fewer carbon emissions than hard rock mining and requires significantly less land.

ExxonMobil’s venture into lithium extraction is a clear indication of the energy industry’s evolving landscape. As companies like ExxonMobil diversify their portfolios, the focus on sustainable and renewable energy sources becomes increasingly prominent.