The country’s five biggest oil companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell — made a total profit of nearly $1 trillion over the last ten years. In 2008, ExxonMobil broke its own record for most profitable year for a public company in history by making more than $45 billion. And according to an analysis in the Wall Street Journal, rising oil prices in 2010 mean that Big Oil’s profits this year “could come close to rivaling the industry’s record year in 2008”:
First-quarter crude prices averaged about $100 a barrel, or about 20% higher than a year ago, pushed upward by oil-supply concerns due to political unrest in the Arab World and a recovering global economy. That spike is expected to lift earnings by about 50% at Exxon Mobil Corp., and about 33% each at Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips, compared with a year earlier.
Despite these sky-high profits, House Republicans voted unanimously last month to preserve the billions in subsidies that oil companies receive from the federal government every year. Gas prices in many parts of the country are currently higher than $4 per gallon.
House Republicans are planning “legislation aimed at expanding domestic oil production in response to high gasoline prices,” but CNN Money provides a reminder that more drilling won’t drive prices noticeably lower:
According to a 2009 study from the government’s Energy Information Administration, opening up waters that are currently closed to drilling off the East Coast, West Coast and the west coast of Florida would yield an extra 500,000 barrels a day by 2030.
The world currently consumes 89 million barrels a day, and by then would likely be using over 100 million barrels.
After OPEC got done adjusting its production to reflect the increased American output, gas prices might drop a whopping 3 cents a gallon.