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Exxon Expands Lithium Plans With New Arkansas Deal

Exxon has inked a deal with a chemicals producer for the development of lithium resources in Arkansas as it ventures further into the battery metal, Reuters has reported.

The news follows last month’s report by the Wall Street Journal that Exxon had acquired the rights to a lithium deposit in Arkansas, for which it paid $100 million.

The report quoted unnamed sources as saying the supermajor could begin drilling at the deposit in the next few months. According to the previous owner of the assets, they may contain up to 4 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent, which the WSJ said was enough for 50 million EV batteries.

According to other unnamed sources, who spoke to Reuters, the new deal concerns assets adjacent to the ones Exxon acquired earlier this year. The financial details of the new deal were not disclosed, Reuters wrote.

Several oil companies seem to be interested in diversification into lithium. Demand projections are one big reason for this and the other is the fact that lithium mining appears to require similar expertise to oil well drilling.

“It’s a natural evolution for oil companies. Lithium brines are an obvious one as unlike charging networks and wind farms, where they have no skills besides project management, they are skilled at subsurface pumping and fluids,” according to the chief executive of a mining investment fund dubbed TechMet, which has invested in a lithium venture owned by Schlumberger.

The oilfield services major, which has renamed itself SLB, is one of the most active in lithium, betting on direct lithium extraction technology, which is seen by many to be the future of lithium production. The FT compared it to fracking and suggested DLE could do for lithium production what fracking did for oil production.

The lithium market is seen expanding to $150 billion annually by 2030.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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