Exxon Mobil Corp. is reportedly in discussions with a number of automakers, including Tesla Inc., Ford Motor Co., and Volkswagen AG, about potential lithium supply deals. The discussions are reportedly part of Exxon’s efforts to move into the battery component business.
The talks are said to be in the early stages for now, and they also involve discussions with battery giants such as Samsung and SK On, as per Bloomberg News, citing individuals reportedly familiar with the matter. Both Exxon and Volkswagen declined to provide comments for now. Tesla, Ford, and Samsung have not issued statements about the matter as well.
Exxon’s interest in securing lithium buyers comes amid the rise of the electric vehicle sector. As EV sales see a notable rise, the demand for essential battery components like lithium has increased. This has posed potential challenges to Exxon’s oil production and refining businesses.
Exxon has set a target of extracting 100,000 tons of lithium annually and is currently exploring a 10-acre site in Arkansas. However, the company has not yet made a decision on whether it will undertake lithium production independently or seek partnerships.
Among the lithium producers with whom Exxon is reportedly engaging in discussions with is chemicals company Albemarle Corp., as per Bloomberg’s sources. Albemarle did not confirm its discussions with Exxon, though the company noted that “given Albemarle’s leadership role in the market, people routinely want to speak with us — especially when looking at potential resources.”
Exxon has previously expressed interest in exploring lithium extraction from underground saltwater, a process that is believed to be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly compared to traditional mining methods. During a recent earnings conference call, Exxon CEO Darren Woods stated that “brine and extracting the lithium is very consistent with a lot of the things that we do in our refineries and chemical plants and, in fact, in some of our upstream operations.”
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