A Look At Exxon Mobil Corporation Biology Essay

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Exxon Mobil Corporation is an American based company and is a merger of two successor company of Standard Oil founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1870, Standard Oil of New Jersey ( renamed Esxxon) and Standard Oil of New York ( renamed Mobil ). It was formed on 30th November 1999.

This report inclusive of the Oil spill disaster that occured in the year 1989. What actually lead to the event, the consequences of the disaster and changes made to prevent it from happening again.

Exxon Mobil Corp produce 3.921 million BOE ( Barrel of Oil Equivalent ) which is approximate 3% of the world production and contribute approximate 2% of the world energy making itself the largest among the six International Oil Company with 14th in the rank of oil and gas reserved. It has 37 oil refinery in 21 countries today refining 6.3 million barrels daily and is the world largest oil refiner since 1870.

The company marked a growth of 12% in the past 5 years with a net asset of 233 billion US$ last year compared to 208 billion in year 2005 and has more than 106100 employee globally. It has three main division which is Upstream ( exploration, production, development, gas and power marketing ), Downstream ( refining and marketing petroleum products ) and Chemical. It market it products under the brand name of Exxon, Esso and Mobil along other subsidiaries.

Exxon Mobil aimed to conduct business that compatible with the community's environment and economics needs while secure the safety and health of their employees as well as the public.

The company has designed a safety policy which includes maintenance of facilities, employee training management system and cooperation with government bodies to develop laws and regulation. Medical services are provided to employee to ensure their fitness condition. Employee which had substance abuse problem will not be allowed to work in certain position for safety purpose.

Exxon Mobil Corp expect a growth in energy demand by 35% in the next 20 years due to the development of various area such as medical, communication and computing technology. They aimed to provide more energy and solutions to contain the growing needs of energy while not neglecting the environment. They focused on expanding supplies, increasing efficiency and mitigating emissions.

Exxon Mobil Corp started eights new projects in last year to create global gas market using advanced liquefied natural gas ( LNG ) technology producing 49 million tones of liquefied natural gas. Since 2004, Exxon Mobil Corp invested total of 1.9 billion US$ in mitigating emission activities such as cogeneration where to generate both electricity and heat using power station or heat engine to reduce greenhouse gas making it the leader in such field.

Exxon Mobil Corp objective is to produce safe and reliable to meet growing demands of energy. In year 2009, they recorded zero spills from their vessel. They have conducted various analysis on the economic growth and foresee the growth of energy demand in the market. An expected demand on power generation will rise 55% on the total growth and the demand of transportations such as aviation and marine. Exploration has been conducted to search for more resources for the past 5 years with a average total of 3.1 billion oil equivalent barrel added to it resource base and 1.8 billion of oil equivalent barrel added to it reserved. A 14% rise of production occurred last year.

"Exxon Mobil Corp 2009 Annual Report"

There are total of 130 development project in various stage, planning or execution is going on and expected of 24 billions oil-equivalent barrel will be added in various country and region.

"Exxon Mobil Corp 2009 Annual Report"

The bought over of XTO Energy Inc by Exxon Mobil Corp in 2009 with a total of 31 billion US$ gave it a foothold in North America's natural gas industries as it foresee the growing demand of natural gases.

Various action has been taken by Exxon Mobil Corp to execute their objective of providing safe and reliable energy to feed the growing demand of energy.

2.2 Oil Refinery

Oil refinery is a process where raw crude oil is processed and refined into usable petroleum product such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, heating oil, liquefied petroleum gas. These process are carried put in an industrial plant where pipes transporting fluids between chemical processing unit.

Crude oil are being entered into a furnace initially and therefore being transferred into a boiler containing superheated steam and then another furnace for further process where various fraction of different temperature to obtain different desired products before the storage tank.


2.2.1 Methods of refinery

Crude oil contained various hydrocarbon are processed into various component using fractional distillation. Heating the crude oil in various temperature to vaporize it before condensing it to obtain the product.

Chemical process is another technique adopted for the process by changing the hydrocarbon chain using different method to shorten, lengthen or rearranging the combination. Cracking Method

Cracking method is for breaking the hydrocarbon chain via heating and high pressure ( optional ).


Steam is used for high temperature ( 1500 degrees Fahrenheit ) for breaking ethane, butane, naptha into ethylene and benzene for chemical manufacturing. Visbreaking, heating with ( 900 degrees Fahrenheit ) before cooling with gas oil and then rapidly burned to reduce viscosity to produce tar. Coking is heating the residual to temperature above 900 Fahrenheit until it crack into gasoline, naphtha and heavy crude oil which density is higher than crude oil. Coke ( pure carbon ) is produced in this process.


Catalytic process is catalyze the breaking process using catalyst such as zeolite, aluminum, hydrosilicate. Fluid catalytic cracking is introducing a hot ( 1000 degrees Fahrenheit ) fluid catalyst into heavy crude oil and cracking it into diesel and gasoline. Hydrocracking uses lower temperature, higher pressure and hydrogen gas to crack heavy crude oil into gasoline and kerosene. Products are separated via fractional distillation. Unification

Unification process is used to combine smaller hydrocarbon chain into longer chain using catalyst such as platinum or platinum-rhenium mix to combine low weight naphtha into aromatics to blend gasoline or making chemicals. Hydrogen are produced in the process as a by-product can be used for hydrocracking or sold. Alteration

Alteration are rearrange the combination of the hydrocarbon chain to obtain other products using a process called alkylation where lower weight compound such as butylene or propylene are mixed in the presence of catalyst ( hydrofluoric acid or sulfuric acid ) to produce octane hydrocarbon. Octane hydrocarbon are used in gasoline blends to reduce knocking.

2.2.2 Treating and Blending process

After processed, fractions are treated to remove impurities such as sulfur which contains organic compound, nitrogen, water, oxygen dissolved metal and inorganic salt by passing through various process.

Example of process:

Sulfur and hydrogen-sulfide to remove sulfur and it compound.

Column of sulfuric acid to remove unsaturated hydrocarbon, nitrogen, oxygen compound and solid residual such as tars or asphalt.

Absorption column with drying agent to remove water.

Following by are cooling the fractions and blending together for different products such as various grades of gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel and lubricant.

2.2.3 Flow Diagram of oil refinery process


2.2.4 Esso refinery plant

Antwerp refinery is one of the refineries belonged to Exxon Mobil Corp. It produces LPG, petrol, naphtha, kerosene, diesel, domestic fuel oil, light and heavy gas oil, raw materials for chemical purposes, solvents and bitumen.

Diagram below are the flow chart of the process in the plant.


2.3. Causes of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Disaster

On 24th March 1989, Exxon Valdez, an oil tanker with 986 foot struck the Bligh reef while on his way to California and spilled a maximum amount of 750,000 barrels of crude oil into the ocean. Some area of the ocean has been remained oiled today. This event was lead by an accumulated account of human errors and technical error. Investigation has been conducted composed of different side of stories which lead to the incident. It's inclusive of who did what on when and how it happened.

2.3.1 Greg Palast

According to Greg Palast, a journalist from British broadcast Corporation while he work as the spill investigator, the incident happen due to Exxon refusal to repair the ship radar which has been malfunctioned for a year and was known by Exxon. A radar uses electromagnetic wave to detect the altitude, distance, speed and direction of an object. He also claimed that there's no response team responded to the spill after the incident.

Before the incident, there were minor smaller oil spilled that might hints the outcoming of the Exxon Valdez but the evidencing water sample has been disposed and replaced by clean sample as ordered by the management level according to Aleyska, the consortium of the industry who control the pipeline. April 1988, a secret meeting were held where Alyeska vice-president, T.L. Polasek warned Exxon executive that they does not acquire any safety equipment to contain any oil spilled along the Valdez Narrow where it's not possible.

Alyeska team of the native who had been trained to respond to such incident such as piloting helicopter and use special equipment to counter such situation but was fired quietly in year 1979. A fake team was created to ward off state inspector by listing name of oil terminal worker who without knowledge to handle the oil spill incident where lead to no response team respond to the event.

2.3.2 Exxon

Exxon claimed that the Exxon Valdez spotted iceberg in the route and deviate on the lane to avoid ordered by the captain, Joseph Hazelwood to Claar who steer the tanker and handed the wheelhouse to the third mate, Gregory Cousins and replace Claar with Kagan who failed to maneuver the tanker back to it original lane. Hazzelwood was accused to have been drunk has been blamed. National Transportation Safety Board ( NTSB )

NTSB determined five possible causes from their investigation.

Fatigue and excessive workload who lead the failure of the third mate to properly maneuver the tanker as he had been told.

Failure to provide proper navigation watch by the captain due to alcohol abuse.

Exxon failed to provide sufficient crew with fit condition for the course. Crews were working overtime aboard due to lack of manpower.

U.S Coast Guard failed to provide effective traffic system. Exxon Valdez was not aware of the ceased of tracking ship out to Bligh Reef and proper inspection was not done on the tanker.

Lack of escort services.

A proper job design was failed to be prepared by Exxon has lead to such undesired event.

2.4. Hazard Consequences of the oil spills


Severed damage has been done to the environment and wildlife resource with the impact extended to today. The spill regions cover more than 9000 miles of shoreline. The aftermath of the oil spills has not ceased yet since 1989. Among victims are the pacific herring and pigeon guillemots where population has not improved while other like killer whales and otter has shown significant progress in their populations. This has contributed to the reduction of the wildlife resources and damaged ecosystem since pacific herrings are the central of the food web.

Following the year after the oil spills, a sharp rise of death rate of otters and ducks is shown due to consuming on oil contaminated prey and ingestion of oil residues on hair from grooming. Killer whale served as good example to represent the struggle of sea creatures even after the contact with oil. Their number has been sharply reduced by 1990 due to inhaling toxic fumes as they required to breath above water surface which is just a few inches above the slick. Killing of the re-productive age of female whales contribute to the sharp fell of the population.

After the oil spills, commercial fisheries activities are closed since 1989 throughout Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, outer Kenai coast, Kodiak and Alaska peninsular for recovery. Beside, injuries to natural resources and displace activities from oiled to un-oiled area declined recreation.

Subsistence activities have been seriously disrupted since the native and rely heavily on the harvests from the oil spilled area. Subsistence activities of nearly 2000 local people and 13,000 subsistence permit holders is affected from the spills due to the greatly limited availability of wildlife resources.

As in 2003 Auke Bay Laboratories survey report, a total amount of 21,000 gallons of oil remained as an update to the previous 16,000 gallons in 2001 survey.

The oil from the spill marked a decrease of 0-4% every year with not more than 5% chance of 4% in a particular year. This shows that it takes almost centuries to clear the oil while more lingering oil yet to be discovered.

2.5 Improvement made in management

After the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989, Exxon Mobil had made changes to prevent the disaster from reoccurring.

Exxon Mobil has introduce an operations integrity management system which inclusive of 11 elements.

As a method of prevention, the route that will be taken by tanker is modified, planned before departure.

Strict governing on drug and alcohol usage on employee. The corporation may conduct unannounced search on their owned or controlled property or medical evaluation such as drug and alcohol testing when suspicion exists. Periodic test will be conducted to employee if specified by law or under certain circumstances where a test is required. If a positive result is shown, the employee may be subjected to disciplinary action which include termination.