The top two corporations on the Fortune 500 Global ranking, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, announced their 2012 second-quarter earnings today, bringing the total profits for three Big Oil companies to $44 billion for 2012 or $250 million every day this year. Exxon profited by $16 billion this quarter, bringing its earnings for 2012 to $25 billion.
The New York Times wrote that Exxon and Shell’s earnings “disappoint,” because energy prices unexpectedly dropped for consumers this summer. Put their profits in the appropriate context, however, and Exxon and Shell still made a combined $160,000 per minute last quarter, even though the top five oil companies benefit from $2.4 billion federal tax breaks every year.
Below we look at what Exxon and Shell spends its earnings on:
— Exxon spent 42 percent — or $10.7 billion — of its 2012 profits buying back its stock, which enriches executives and largest shareholders.
— Exxon has spent $17 million lobbying for the past 18 months, making it the top spender in the oil and gas industry. It has spent more than $52 million lobbying for the first three years of the Obama presidency, 50 percent more than in the Bush administration.
— Exxon is sitting on $18 billion in cash reserves.
— Exxon send federal candidates $1.3 million in campaign contributions so far this campaign cycle, sending 91 percent to Republicans.
— Exxon paid just 13 percent in federal taxes last year, lower than the average American family. Right after Mitt Romney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the top recipient of Exxon federal contributions.
— Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson received $24.7 million total compensation.
Royal Dutch Shell:
— Shell will start drilling in the Arctic this summer, but its oil spill response plan is still behind schedule. It’s off to an inauspicious start in the Arctic, recently losing control of an Arctic drilling rig.
— Shell has more than $17.3 billion in cash reserves.
— Shell bought back 15 percent of its second-quarter profits, or $900 million.
— Shell CEO Peter Voser’s compensation more than doubled in 2011 to $15.3 million. His salary increased (in euros) by 113 percent.
— In its annual report, Shell noted that the number of oil spills increased from 195 in 2010 to 207 during 2011.
While these companies already benefit from billions in tax breaks, Mitt Romney has offered the industry even more. A Center for American Progress Action analysis finds that Romney’s tax plan could lower five companies’ annual tax bill by another $2.3 billion, virtually doubling what they already receive in tax breaks.
Chevron and BP are the last two of the Big Oil companies to announce profits.