Skip to main content

Continuously improve capabilities and performance

ExxonMobil uses research and operational analyses to support the continuous improvement of water-related technologies, practices and performance in our industry.


We have invested approximately $8 billion in research and development during the past 10 years, and almost $2 billion on technologies related to safety and the environment. We conduct cutting-edge research and development through in-house efforts and partnerships with other industries, and by funding academic and other nongovernmental research projects. Here are some examples related to water:

  • Life cycle assessments compare a product or technology with alternatives to identify environmental benefits and trade-offs among several categories, including water. ExxonMobil is working to extend the science behind life cycle assessments by collaborating with leading academics and universities. ExxonMobil’s researchers have published their findings in peer-reviewed journals on topics such as algae biofuel technology options and shale gas production, including their impacts on water.
  • ExxonMobil is involved in collaborative research projects including major joint industry initiatives regarding the environmental effects of underwater sounds and Arctic oil spill prevention and response
  • Imperial Oil, along with 11 other major operators, created the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) in 2012. Currently, 13 companies, including Imperial, participate in COSIA. It was created to develop and share technologies that improve environmental performance in the Canadian oil sands sector. Water is one of the priority areas for COSIA.

Science-based approach to improvement

ExxonMobil applies a science-based approach to performance improvement, applying measurement, data collection and analysis to drive new insights to potential improvements, technology needs and risk management opportunities.

Assessment and improvement are integral to our management and planning systems. True to the adage “what gets measured gets managed,” these steps are underpinned by data. ExxonMobil’s environmental data management system facilitates the collection of site-level data, including water, for analysis of global environmental performance.

Research also informs the process and drives innovation. In the 1970s Imperial Oil began researching the reuse of produced water to generate steam in its Cold Lake operations; this practice, plus the use of alternative saline groundwater sources, has resulted in a reduction of fresh water use per unit of production by 90 per cent since 1985.