Oil titans raking in record profits amid high gas prices: report

Oil titans raking in record profits amid high gas prices: report
Image by Wan Fahmy Redzuan, Shutterstock

ExxonMobil could see its highest quarterly profits since 2008, the company announced on Monday. According to Reuters, oil and gas operations alone accounted for $9.3 billion for the first quarter of 2022. A combination of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Exxon’s lack of hedging meant the polluter benefitted greatly from geopolitical conflict and the world’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels. Exxon is so explicitly profiting off of some of the worst issues the world faces that even lawmakers have taken notice. On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America's Pain at the Pump.” Naturally, Exxon CEO and Chairman Darren Woods is scheduled to testify, as are his counterparts from Chevron, BP, Shell, and other major fossil fuel players.

The meeting comes a day after many oil execs were scheduled to attend another meeting on high gas prices to be held by the House Natural Resources Committee that they ultimately chose not to even bother with. That hearing has since been canceled, as apparently it’s simply too taxing for oil and gas heads to even show up when asked. Of the three companies requested to testify at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing—Occidental, EOG, and Devon—only Devon Energy’s Richard Muncrief will testify at the House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting. It’s anyone’s guess what Occidental CEO Vicki Hollub and EOG CEO William Thomas will be up to instead, aside from idly profiting off of our languishing climate.

High gas prices have devastated Americans, who are paying on average around $4.18 per gallon. Those who rely on their vehicles to commute— and especially those who use their cars for their very jobs—have little recourse in recouping that substantial loss. Uber and Lyft began adding a fuel surcharge to attempt to address the issue, while DoorDash is offering a pittance for those who drive at least 175 miles or more. And still oil and gas companies continue to profit. There isn’t a whole lot that anyone relying on a car for transportation can do unless policies are changed and these windfall profits are taxed.

Exxon appears to have few worries, save for when it comes to doing the right thing. The fossil fuel giant all but admitted that pulling out of Russia would be bad for business, with the company worrying that it would cost $4 billion to make good on its promise to “discontinue operations at the Sakhalin-1 project and [develop] steps to exit the venture.” Exxon operates Sakhalin-1, an offshore oil and gas consortium which the company has a 30% stake in. The news appears not to have made much of a dent in Exxon’s stock, which rose slightly Tuesday morning. The company will release its full Q1 earnings report on April 29.

Public Citizen released a report on all the money Big Oil is making at this pivotal moment in climate change mitigation and geopolitics, and you’ll never guess which company sits near the top of the list for oil and gas stock buybacks for 2021-2022? Oh, and oil and gas dividends paid out? ExxonMobil.

Exxon’s buybacks totaled $10 billion in the first quarter of 2022 alone, and saw dividends increase in that quarter by 1.1%. This comes after the company suspended its buybacks in 2016 and only resumed the practice in February.

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