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Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM - Analyst Report) was directed by a jury ruling to pay $236 million to New Hampshire to clean groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE). Exxon Mobil added MTBE to gasoline to reduce smog.

The ghost of MTBE contamination seems to haunt Exxon Mobil big time. Earlier, in 2009, the energy behemoth paid $105 million in fine to the New York City Water District.

However, the company was able to score one brownie point by reducing the original jury verdict of an $816 million fine to $236 million or 28.9% of the original. The reduced quantum of damages reflect Exxon's market share of gasoline sold in the state between 1988 and 2005.

Exxon Mobil is the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, engaged in oil and natural gas exploration and production, petroleum products refining and marketing, chemicals manufacture, and other energy-related businesses. Approximately 83% of Exxon Mobil’s earnings come from its operations outside the U.S.

Exxon Mobil is one of the world’s best-run integrated oil company given its track record of superior returns on capital employed. The energy giant has long been a core holding for investors seeking a defensive name with continued dividend growth. Exxon Mobil is fairly active in its investment program. The company plans to spend about $185 billion over the next five years, up 29% from the last five-year period.

The capital expenditure covers as many as 21 important oil and gas projects currently under the anvil and are estimated to accumulate over 1 million net oil-equivalent barrels per day by 2016. It includes the Kearl Oil Sands development project in Canada, four in West Africa and Kashagan Phase 1 in Kazakhstan.

Exxon is also engaged in a large liquefied natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, which is expected to begin deliveries in 2014. It will further unearth more oil from the development of Hebron oil field offshore the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The development will help in recovering over 700 million barrels of oil and the platform is expected to yield its first oil towards the end of 2017.

Exxon Mobil holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). However, the Zacks Ranked #2 stocks of Continental Resources, Inc. (CLR - Snapshot Report), Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK - Analyst Report) and EPL Oil & Gas, Inc. are expected to outperform the market over the next few months.

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