American multinational oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics Inc announced on 18 January that they are extending their partnership into advanced algae biofuels after making significant progress in understanding algae genetics, growth characteristics and increasing oil production.

The two companies have been jointly researching and developing oil from algae for biofuels since 2009.

“Work continues towards developing strains of algae that demonstrate significantly improved photosynthetic efficiency and oil production through selection and genetic engineering of higher-performance algae strains,” the companies said.

“The agreement continues to focus on Synthetic Genomics’ core strengths in synthetic biology and builds on recent discoveries of biological pathways regulating lipid production and growth in advanced algal strains.”

ExxonMobil said the commercial development of algae biofuels remained a key component of its suite of research projects focused on producing energy to meet global demand while reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the risk of climate change.

It said global demand for transportation fuels was projected to rise by nearly 30% through 2040.