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Unconventional oil and gas will fry climate: ExxonMobil report

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Surge in unconventional oil

ExxonMobil expects nearly half of the oil supply in 2040 to come from "unconventional" oil. As conventional liquid oil supplies dry up ("peak oil"), new technology is stepping in to convert gooey, solid and gaseous fossilized carbon into liquid form.

Even as global oil production rises, the estimated size of the global recoverable resource base continues to increase.

Globally, while conventional crude production will likely decline slightly over the Outlook period, this decline will be more than offset by rising production from supply sources enabled by new technologies — including tight oil, deepwater and oil sands.

By 2040, about 45 percent of liquids supply will be from sources other than conventional crude and condensate production

Surge in unconventional natural gas

Likewise, an explosion of new technologies have unlocked tremendous amounts of "unconventional" natural gas.

The world has about 200 years of natural gas.

Estimates of recoverable gas have doubled in the last 10 to 15 years as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies have unlocked the prospect of recovering unconventional gas.

About 65 percent of the growth in natural gas supplies through 2040 is expected to be from unconventional sources

Coal not the cause of increased CO2

ExxonMobil projects that humans will increase coal burning for a decade or so before cutting back slowly. By 2040 they expect coal burning to be at the same level it is now.

However, they also expect CO2 levels to be 19% higher by 2040. With coal burning at the same level it means all the increase in CO2 emissions in 2040 (up 19% from today) will be caused by increased oil and gas burning.

Renewable energy falls farther behind  

By 2040, the report projects the energy production gap between renewable energy and fossil fuels will grow spectacularly wider.

Today fossil fuels produce 226 quadrillion more BTUs of energy than all renewable energy sources. By 2040, ExxonMobil expects that gap to grow to 305 quadrillion more BTUs from fossil carbon.

All the global efforts to develop less climate damaging sources of energy like wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, biofuels and hydropower will lose ground to a far larger surge in "unconventional" fossil carbon sources.

Simple solution is waiting 

The solution to the climate crisis is simple: require climate pollution to pay an ever-increasing fee for the damage it does.

ExxonMobil itself prefers a simple carbon tax as the solution. In fact they already use a $60 per tCO2 internal carbon price in their decision making.

As their data shows, that carbon price will need to be a lot higher than $80 per tCO2, and will need to appear a lot sooner than 2040, if we are to avoid  a future of extreme climate misery that their emissions projections say is headed our way.

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