Woods, currently not in the summit program, is expected to advocate for more oil production with less carbon emissions, in what became his mantra in the past couple of years. Record oil and gas attendance expected at this year's COP.

Leading the climate talks is Sultan al-Jaber, also chief executive of the UAE's state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), whose work with the industry in the run-up to the summit has led to more than 20 oil and gas companies signing up to a voluntary climate pledge. However environment critics have been concerned over Exxon's plans to increase oil production and its aversion to scope 3 targets, which measures emissions from products sold to clients.

Exxon on Wednesday said it decided to join a United Nations-led initiative to monitor its methane emissions, following in the footsteps of its European rivals taken years ago.

Exxon has been catching up with industry emission reduction initiatives since 2021, when it suffered an investor rebellion over the company's lack of climate strategy.

The move, anticipated by Reuters, also follows the acquisition in October of U.S. shale producer Pioneer Natural Resources, already a member of the U.N.'s Oil & Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP).

Exxon could either join the group or face the reputation risk of removing Pioneer assets from OGMP, the world's largest initiative to monitor methane emissions. The program uses standardized, independently verified methods that are comparable across the industry.

Exxon says technology advancements allowed it to join the initiative and that the decision guards no relation with Pioneer's acquisition.

"The evolving technical landscape and ongoing collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have opened the door for us to meet OGMP 2.0's expectations," Exxon's Chief Environmental Strategist Matt Kolesar said in a statement. More than 95 companies including Shell, BP, Total, Conoco and Occidental are part of the U.N. initiative. Chevron is the main absence among large Western oil producers.

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle and Sarah McFarlane; Editing by Josie Kao)

By Sabrina Valle and Sarah McFarlane