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ExxonMobil makes a $60 billion oil deal, doubling down on fossil fuels

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The largest U.S. oil company, ExxonMobil, said it plans to buy a rival in a nearly $60 billion deal. As NPR's Julia Simon reports, it comes at a critical moment for climate change.

JULIA SIMON, BYLINE: In the West Texas oil fields that helped make the U.S. into the world's top oil producer, there's a company with some very good land. It's called Pioneer. And yesterday, ExxonMobil announced that it would buy Pioneer, its biggest acquisition since the late '90s.

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DARREN WOODS: When we bring these two together, it's not about cutting back. It's about building up.

SIMON: Here's ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods speaking yesterday about Pioneer.

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WOODS: They have the best acreage in the Midland Basin. And you bring some of these techniques that we picked up, you know, that is a powerful combination.

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SIMON: Exxon's plan to boost oil production in the Texas Permian Basin will help keep the U.S. as a global oil player, says Tom Ellacott at the energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

TOM ELLACOTT: It does send a very positive signal, I think, of the importance of the Permian Basin to the global sector.

SIMON: This deal comes as researchers say countries, including the U.S., need to slash oil production to rein in climate change. But as oil companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP come out of a few years of record profits, they are mostly not investing those profits in renewable energy or transitioning away from fossil fuels, says Paasha Mahdavi, political science professor at UC Santa Barbara.

PAASHA MAHDAVI: Rather than taking the opportunity to get an off ramp away from oil and gas and try to diversify, you're seeing Exxon saying, well, I'm going to try to double down here in the United States.

SIMON: ExxonMobil said this deal can help decrease both companies' environmental footprint. They plan to monitor methane, a potent planet-heating gas, and make other investments.

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Julia Simon, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ALLAH-LAS' "HOUSTON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Julia Simon
Julia Simon is the Climate Solutions reporter on NPR's Climate Desk. She covers the ways governments, businesses, scientists and everyday people are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She also works to hold corporations, and others, accountable for greenwashing.