$236 Per American Driver: Big Oil’s U.S. Profits From The Last Year

Sky-high gas prices mean hardship for American families but huge profits for big oil companies.

According to a new study from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, their U.S. profits from the last 12 months were the equivalent to $236 from every single person with a drivers license in America.

In the past year, oil and gasoline prices have broken all records. Oil reached $147 a barrel, and gasoline hit a new high of $4.11 a gallon earlier this month. Oil prices were 90 percent higher over the past three months than they were a year ago.

Today, Exxon Mobil announced that they had made $11.7 billion in the last three months, the most profitable quarter ever for an American company.The other big five oil companies announced earnings 26% higher than this same period last year, putting them on track to break last year’s record profits.


High prices may be good for oil company profits, but they’re bad news for American families. Higher gasoline prices are costing ordinary families hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars a year.

In the past 12 months, the five largest oil companies have earned $148 billion world wide, including an estimated $47 billion in the United States. To put these numbers in perspective: if these U.S. profits were distributed evenly among American drivers, it would equal about $236 per driver.

At a time of record profits, the United States should be focused on providing relief to families, not padding the profits of big oil with John McCain’s tax plan that would give $4 billion in tax breaks to America’s five largest oil companies and $1.2 billion to Exxon Mobil alone.

For more information, check out the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s full report here.

UPDATE: Chevron has since released their Q2 2008 profits: $5.98 billion in the last three months, up 11% from the same period last year. While slightly less than predicted in our report, it doesn’t significantly change the per-driver share of the five companies’ U.S. profits over the past year which remains approximately $236 per American driver.