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Exxon Mobil CEO tells shareholders that fossil fuels have long future

DALLAS — Exxon Mobil Chairman Rex Tillerson issued a ringing defense of the oil titan at the company's annual meeting Wednesday, where 11 shareholder proposals, all opposed by management, were roundly defeated in a spirited gathering at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.

Tillerson praised Exxon’s record-breaking financial performance in 2008, its handsome returns to shareholders in recent years, technological advances that have greatly enhanced oil and natural gas recovery, and its efforts to reduce the environmental harm of its far-ranging operations. He defended the company’s large buybacks of company stock, saying that they have increased value to shareholders.

In comments at the meeting and a news conference afterward, Tillerson said U.S. gasoline consumption has probably peaked and will slowly decline as a result of increased fuel economy and a growing reliance on low-sulfur diesel fuel. But he said the world isn’t anywhere close to reaching "peak oil," the point at which oil production will crest and then begin an irreversible decline as a result of dwindling petroleum deposits. A full-scale transition from fossil fuels could be "100 years away," he said.

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