Times are good for the six largest oil companies, with profits easily surpassing the figures from before the 2008 financial meltdown. In 2011 ExxonMobil led the way with profits of $41.1 billion. Shell was in second place at $28.6 billion, followed by Chevron at $26.8 billion and BP at $23.9 billion. Total was back at $15.9 billion and ConocoPhillips trailed at $12.4 billion. All six showed stronger profits than in 2007.
Overall it's been literally a trillion-dollar decade for the oil and gas giants. From 2002 to 2011, ExxonMobil gained $310.6 billion, Shell $203.9 billion, Chevron $151.8 billion and BP $146.9 billion despite its loss year because of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Although oil industry advocates, such as Jack Gerard, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, have recently whined about "discrimination" against the oil industry, Taxpayers for Common Sense has called attention to at least a dozen different subsidies that favor the industry. Brian Siu, a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Roll Call that one subsidy, allowing companies to deduct intangible drilling costs, has been available to the industry since 1916.
To Learn More:
Big Oil Tops $150 Billion in Profits in 2011 (Taxpayers for Common Sense)
Financial Performance of the Major Oil Companies, 2007-2011 (by Robert Pirog, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)
Petroleum Industry Claims Cutting Its Tax Breaks is "Discriminatory" (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
U.S. Use of Gasoline is Down, Yet Pump Prices are Up as Speculators Move In (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Senate Retains $2 Billion in Annual Tax Breaks for Big 5 Oil Companies (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)