PROMO 64J1 Energy - Gasoline Pump Car Fuel - iStock - Fahroni

Report: High gas prices continue to pad oil and gas profits 

© iStock - Fahroni
Eric Galatas

(Nebraska News Connection) As millions of Americans are struggling to fill their gas tanks, a new report shows that rising prices are padding the bottom lines of powerful oil and gas companies. 

Exxon and Chevron alone brought in more than $12 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2022, more than $7 billion dollars more than the same period a year ago. 

Karl Frisch - senior advisor with the government watchdog group Accountable.US, which produced the report - said the industry is taking advantage of converging global crises, including the war in Ukraine and pandemic-related inflation.

"And rather than spending those billions of dollars in additional profits to help stabilize prices for consumers," said Frisch, "they are showering those profits on their already wealthy executives."

Industry groups have argued that - after suffering years of low oil prices due to overproduction and a drop in demand during the pandemic - stronger than projected revenues are helping companies get back on track. 

Others have noted that the drive for high quarterly returns is business as usual for publicly traded companies with a fiduciary obligation to maximize profits.

Frisch said it's disingenuous for highly profitable companies to point to leaner years as a reason to waste profits that could be put to much better use. He said these companies never lose.

"When Big Oil loses money, we bail them out," said Frisch. "When Bil Oil makes money, they just make money, and they do nothing to help consumers. You're talking about an industry that took billions of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program funds from taxpayers during the height of the pandemic."

Frisch argued the industry is wasting an opportunity to invest in energy strategies that can better withstand shocks to the global economy, shocks that are only projected to increase as the impacts of climate change grow.

"The best way to limit the impact on consumers is to start shifting away from these sources of fuels," said Frisch. "And that is something that the oil and gas industry already invests in, and they could invest in it even more."