Exxon CEO Talks Arctic Oil Drilling, Risks, Lessons

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Arctic is the next great frontier for oil and gas — and one of the most environmentally fragile places on earth.

An Energy Department advisory council study adopted last week said the U.S. should start exploring for oil and gas in the Arctic soon in order to feed future demand, and that the industry is ready to safely exploit the Arctic's huge reserves, despite recent mishaps.

In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who led the committee that produced the report, talked about why he thinks Arctic exploration is worth the risk. Exxon has decades of experience working in that part of the world, including successful projects in Russia — but also a catastrophic oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in 1989.

Below are excerpts of the interview, edited for length and clarity.

AP: Why now?

Tillerson: There are two important elements for people to understand. One is the timelines that are required. Anytime you are dealing in these frontier areas where you are really driven by technology, these are very long time frames, multi-decade time frames.

The second element is just the enormity of the energy demand in the world. It's between 85 and 90 million barrels of oil per day today. That takes huge resources to supply that in a reliable way.


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