ExxonMobil is clearly the energy leader around the world today. They are riding high and poised to take advantage of new winds blowing through the political and financial atmosphere.
A commercial by ExxonMobil is currently running on television which illustrates the upbeat attitude at the company.
The ad stresses the number of jobs created by the energy industry and how ExxonMobil is the leader. It is responsible for the potential creation of 45,000 additional jobs directly in the Gulf Coast area alone. The company currently supports 9 million jobs in the United States. The ad gives credit for this to the natural gas portion of the company.
However, the optimism of the present was not always the prevailing attitude within the corporation. In the years leading up to the merger with Mobil Oil, which created ExxonMobil, the energy colossus had more than its share of problems both inside and outside of the industry.
Troubled History of ExxonMobil
Exxon became infamous for the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989. The wreck of the tanker resulted in one the largest oil spills of all time. It was, perhaps, the lowest point in Exxon’s history to date. Even a quarter of a century later, this accident is still associated in a negative way with ExxonMobil.
As Alan Taylor notes:
Eventually, more than 1,000 miles of coastline were fouled, and hundreds of thousands of animals perished. Exxon ended up paying billions in cleanup costs and fines, and remains tied up in court cases to this day.
On the 25th anniversary of the spill, the tragic accident was recalled by many in the media. They point back to the incident and how it has resulted in negative consequences:
[We] might note the anniversary as we do any other historical event. That, however, would imply that the oil spill is over. It’s not, and likely never will be. The sound’s coastal ecosystem is permanently damaged. Thousands of gallons of Exxon Valdez oil still pollute the beaches; this oil is still toxic and still hurting the ecosystem near the shore.
A Controversial Kidnapping
Three years later, in June of 1992, the president of Exxon, Sidney Reso, was kidnapped outside of his New Jersey home. There was speculation at the time that the kidnappers might be a part of an extremist environmental group.
However, it turned out to be a disgruntled employee and his wife, Arthur and Irene Seale, who committed the kidnapping. The couple asked for an $18.5 million ransom. They were eventually caught. The wife turned against her husband after 10 days of questioning.
As a result, she received a lighter sentence of 20 years. She was released in 2010, after serving 17 years. Arthur Seale was sentenced to 95 years in prison.
The kidnapping resulted in the death of Reso after he had been shot in the arm and stuffed into a box. His body was discovered buried in the same container.
ExxonMobil Is Born and Grows
In 1999, Exxon merged with Mobil Oil to become ExxonMobil corporation. The joining resulted in the creation of the largest energy company in the world, and the largest overall in terms of revenue. It was then ExxonMobil began its long march to becoming the energy leader for today.
The size of the newly combined companies made some wonder about the power of such a large entity. The oil reserves they held together placed ExxonMobil, “behind only Saudi Arabia and Iran in terms of output.”
Since the merger, ExxonMobil has worked to see better days come its way. They have invested heavily, through research and development, in improving their refining process to produce cleaner gasoline, and in products to aid in the reduction of greenhouse gasses.
The energy giant has been active in seeking alternative fuel sources as well. In 2009, for example, ExxonMobil, in cooperation with Synthetic Genomics Inc., opened a research greenhouse facility, “enabling the next level of research and testing in their algae biofuels program.”
Major Discoveries Pave The Way Forward
ExxonMobil has also been involved in some of the largest discoveries and drilling projects of recent years. 2007 saw the completion of:
the drilling of the Z-11 well, the longest measured depth extended-reach drilling (ERD) well in the world. (Located on Sakhalin Island offshore eastern Russia,… Z-11 achieved a total measured depth of 37,016 feet (11,282 meters), or more than seven miles.)
Major discoveries of natural gas and oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, by ExxonMobil, has helped to increase profits. As the advertisement notes, this aided the creation of many thousands of jobs in that area, and beyond. ExxonMobil is enjoying more public favor as a result.
The recent political atmosphere in the U.S. favors pursuing energy independence for America. ExxonMobil seems ready to contribute toward that goal. The appointment of the former CEO, Rex Tillerson, to U.S. Secretary of State, if only in a symbolic way, may serve to aid ExxonMobil’s efforts in the future.
by D.T. Osborn
Edited by Cathy Milne
The Atlantic: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill: 25 Years Ago Today
CNN: After 25 years, Exxon Valdez oil spill hasn’t ended
CNNMoney: Exxon, Mobil in $80B deal
ExxonMobil: Our History
NBC CT: Exxon Exec Kidnapper Goes Free After 17 Years
NY Daily News: Ransom gone bad Exxon oil executive Sidney Reso killed in kidnap try by Arthur and Irene Seale
Featured and Top Images Courtesy of Maersk Drilling’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License