The International Energy Agency and the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration have also highlighted the North American oil and gas boom in recent reports. The IEA said last month that the U.S. could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's top crude producer by 2020.
But fracking has raised environmental concerns. Opponents say drilling fluid or wastewater can seep into water supplies if wells are not constructed properly or if wastewater is not disposed of properly.
Exxon's report predicts that the use of electricity will grow quickly - about 1.3 billion people worldwide do not yet have access to it. But electricity demand in the developed world will remain about flat as devices and appliances get more efficient.
The way electricity will be produced will continue to shift. The use of natural gas, nuclear and renewables will grow and the use of coal will decline. Wind, solar and biofuels will grow the fastest, at 5.8 percent per year. But still by 2040 they will contribute only 3 percent of the world's energy needs.
The growth in natural gas's contribution to the world energy mix will be the most pronounced, according to Exxon's outlook. This view led Exxon to place a big bet on natural gas when it spent about $31 billion to buy XTO Energy in 2009, a price that analysts now say was much too high. But Exxon's rivals such as Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell are also leaning more heavily on natural gas.
Still, Exxon says there will be plenty of oil left to power cars, trucks and planes. By 2040, less than half of the world's recoverable oil will have been produced, Exxon's report predicts.
Oil will remain the dominant transportation fuel, allowing demand to grow almost 1 percent a year. Demand for fuel to power heavy trucks will grow fastest, while demand for passenger car fuel will peak worldwide in 2020 as fuel efficiency gains offset the larger number of cars on the road. Worldwide, average passenger car fuel economy will rise to 47 miles per gallon by 2040, up from 27 now. Hybrids will outsell conventional gasoline cars by then, Exxon says.
Worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide from energy sources will peak in about 2030. From there, worldwide emissions will gradually decline as transportation fuel economy improves and coal use declines. In the U.S., emissions per person will decline dramatically over the period, but the typical American in 2040 will still emit far more carbon dioxide than the typical Asian or European.