Record oil profits reported (kind of)

Take comfort knowing that the major oil companies are enjoying record profits as you struggle to pay the rising prices at the gas pump. What’s that, you didn’t know? Blame it on the media, which barely admitted the news.

The word got out at the end of last month when it was learned ExxonMobil, the biggest publicly traded oil company in the world, revealed it had achieved a 32 percent increase in its second-quarter profits.

It wasn’t just Exxon, either. The pattern, according to the newsletter Capitol Hill Blue, is industry-wide.

Royal Dutch Shell, third largest of the world’s oil companies, posted second-quarter profits 34 percent higher than the first quarter, and British Petroleum (BP) reported an increase of 29 percent. The topper was ConocoPhillips, third-largest oil company in this country, who came in with an increase of 51 percent!

This news was so startling and so outrageous that The Washington Post put it in the fourth section of its paper, and editors at The New York Times thought it important enough to be put on page C6 of that publication. Bloomberg News, according to the newsletter, did not connect the obscene profits of the oil majors with the agony of ordinary Americans trying to scrape up enough money to fuel their vehicles.

And what of the government? The silence has been deafening. The weird thing is that all this happened while the Congress was passing an energy bill that was like Christmas time for the oil industry but, according to experts, will do little or nothing to relieve the energy crisis.

The absence of any real solutions to the energy problem is glaring. Jay Hakes, who headed the Energy Information Administration in the Clinton administration, told Capitol Hill Blue: “We need to find a way so that we don’t have a perpetual seller’s market (setting oil prices). Especially one that transfers profits to an unstable part of the world.”

At Oppenheimer & Company, Fadel Gheit, a highly respected oil analyst, declared: “An energy policy that does not start with conservation is doomed to fail. Energy independence must start with a bipartisan approach in Washington. The president and Congress…must set a 20-year goal of cutting in half the oil imports that are now at 12 million barrels a day. They must adopt a firm year-by-year schedule and cut 1 million barrels in imports each year, if Washington really is going to make it work.”

From the Aug. 10-16, 2005, issue

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