BUSINESS

Exxon shareholders to vote on climate change, fracking

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

DALLAS (AP) — Shareholders are considering whether Exxon Mobil should put a climate-change expert on its board.

That is one of several environmental and company-governance resolutions on the agenda at the oil giant's annual meeting Wednesday in Dallas.

CEO Rex Tillerson gave a stay-the-course outlook for the company, which has seen profits decline recently with lower prices for crude oil.

Tillerson has said that oil prices will remain low over the next two years because of large global supplies and weak economic growth.

Exxon has completed more than a dozen major projects in the past three years and expects an equal number to begin production through 2017. The company is paring back on capital spending as those projects are completed — from $38.5 billion last year to $34 billion this year and less in 2016 and 2017.

Shareholders were scheduled to vote on several resolutions advanced by stock owners, including one to require a company report on hydraulic fracturing or fracking, the process of using chemicals and water under high pressure to break up underground rock formations. A similar proposal has been defeated previously.

An organization of Catholic priests in Milwaukee proposed to put a climate-change expert on the board, saying that would help the company address a poor environmental image. The Exxon board opposed the resolution, saying several board members have engineering and scientific backgrounds and can handle climate issues.

Exxon earned $32.5 billion last year, down less than 1 percent from 2013. However, oil prices fell by about half in late 2014, and Exxon's profit in the first quarter of 2015 tumbled 46 percent compared with the same period in 2014, although it still earned $4.9 billion.

Exxon Mobil shares were down 23 cents to $85.12 in midday trading Wednesday. Its shares are down 16 percent over the past year.