Biden slams ExxonMobil CEO for company's record profits at the expense of consumers

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ExxonMobil is one of several American oil companies reporting billions in profits in recent months while gas prices skyrocketed.

President Joe Biden has criticized Darren Woods, the chief executive officer of ExxonMobil, after Woods claimed on Oct. 28 that dividends from the multinational oil company's record profits in the most recent fiscal quarter could help consumers dealing with high gas prices.

ExxonMobil on Friday reported profits of $19.7 billion during the third quarter of 2022, the most in the company's history. Chevron, another multinational oil company, recently announced that it had earned $11.2 billion in profits in the third quarter, the second-highest amount in one quarter for the company. They are the two largest oil companies based in the United States.

Bloomberg reported that Woods' prepared remarks for the company's quarterly earnings call included a claim that its shareholder dividends were a contribution by the petroleum industry to the public.

"There has been discussion in the U.S. about our industry returning some of our profits directly to the American people. That's exactly what we're doing in the form of our quarterly dividend," Woods' remarks said.

Biden criticized the quote in a tweet: "Can't believe I have to say this but giving profits to shareholders is not the same as bringing prices down for American families."

Woods' remarks were themselves in response to recent criticisms by Biden of the oil industry for bringing in significant profits while consumers still contend with high prices for gas. In the second quarter of 2022, the six largest oil companies based in the United States made $70 billion in profits, Biden said in remarks on Oct. 19. He called for those companies to consider using some of that money to lower prices for everyday Americans:

So my message to oil companies is: You're sitting on record profits, and you're — and we're giving you more certainty. So you can act now to increase oil production now.

 

The third thing I'm doing is I'm calling on oil companies to pass the savings on to consumers.

 

Consider this: In the second quarter of this year, profits at six of the largest produce- — publicly traded oil companies were more than $70 billion.

 

That's $70 billion in just one quarter — 90 days. Seventy billion.

So far, American oil companies are using that windfall — the windfall of profits to buy back their own stock, passing that money on to their shareholders, not to consumers.

The oil industry has taken massive profits over the last two years as prices for fuel have increased. At the same time, executives have seen their personal wealth significantly increase: In 2021, Woods received an increased salary of $23.6 million, up $7 million from the year before.

Gas prices across the world have been affected by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and there is growing concern that recent decisions by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 allied countries, including Russia, Mexico and Kazakhstan, to cut back on oil production will cause global oil supplies to decrease and lead fuel prices to increase.

The Biden administration has been using the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase fuel supply in the United States and lower consumer costs. In March, Biden ordered the release of 180 million barrels of oil from the reserve, a record at the time. On Oct. 19 he added to that record-breaking release by ordering an additional 15 million barrels from the reserve.

The national average of gas prices as measured by AAA hit an all-time high on June 13 when it reached $5.01 per gallon. Prices have dropped considerably since, with AAA recording a national average of $3.76 per gallon on Oct. 28.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.