Exxon builds reserves with growth in US oil

Exxon Mobil Corp. more than replaced its production of oil and gas in 2012, building on nearly two decades of growth in its proved reserves, the energy giant said Tuesday.

The world’s largest non-state energy company said it had added 1.8 billion oil-equivalent barrels of resources to its proved oil and gas reserves. That exceeded Exxon Mobil’s production of about 1.5 billion oil-equivalent barrels last year.

Proved reserves are fossil fuels that the company can recover from its leaseholds using infrastructure that exists, is under construction or would require minimal new investment.

Exxon Mobil’s proved reserves at the end of 2012 were 25.2 billion oil-equivalent barrels, including 51 percent in liquid hydrocarbons and 49 percent in natural gas. At the end of 2011, Exxon Mobil had 24.9 billion barrels in proved oil and gas reserves, including 49 percent liquids and 51 percent gas.

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The addition replaced the oil and gas the company produced in 2012 by 115 percent. But the growth in reserves was the same as a year ago, when Exxon Mobil’s production was higher, resulting in a replacement rate of 107 percent.

Last year was Exxon Mobil’s 19th consecutive year of replacing its production by more than 100 percent with expanded proved reserves, according to a news release.

In 2012, the Irving, Texas-based company’s main sources of new proved reserves were oil plays, accounting for 1.4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

The Woodford shale in Oklahoma and the Bakken shale in North Dakota added more than 750 million oil-equivalent barrels of the new reserves, according to Exxon Mobil.

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The other major additions came from a variety of plays in Canada, which added 600 million barrels of oil equivalent to Exxon Mobil’s reserves, according to a news release. Part of the Canadian growth came from an expansion of the company’s Nabiye heavy oil project at Cold Lake in Alberta, which drills wells that produce bitumen, a solid, hydrocarbon-bearing substance that has to be diluted to move through pipelines. A new investment in an offshore platform in Newfoundland and Labrador also contributed to the Canadian growth.

Exxon Mobil said that reserve growth also came from Australia, Angola and Kazakhstan.

Several Exxon Mobil-operated projects in Kazakhstan are set to generate in excess of 1.5 million barrels of oil equivalent production per day in the coming years, but Exxon Mobil will have a minority stake in that production growth.