ExxonMobil will be drilling the first lithium well in Arkansas, according to a news release.
The company acquired the rights to 120,000 gross acres of the Smackover Formation located in southern Arkansas earlier this year. The region is considered to be one of the most valuable lithium resources of its kind in North America.
Conventional oil and gas drilling methods are employed to acquire lithium-rich saltwater from reservoirs around 10,000 feet underground. ExxonMobil will then use direct lithium extraction technology in order to extract lithium from saltwater and convert the lithium to battery-grade material. The remaining saltwater will be returned to underground reservoirs.
Potential benefits to direct lithium extraction include less carbon emissions than hard rock mining as well as requiring substantially less land, according to the news release.
Demand for lithium is expected to quadruple by 2030, with the material being used to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Currently, nearly all lithium is created outside of North America.
The first lithium production from ExxonMobil is slated for 2027. By 2030, the company expects to produce enough lithium for the manufacturing needs of over a million EVs annually.
“Lithium is essential to the energy transition, and ExxonMobil has a leading role to play in paving the way for electrification,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. “This landmark project applies decades of ExxonMobil expertise to unlock vast supplies of North American lithium with far fewer environmental impacts than traditional mining operations.”