LOS ANGELES, June 11 — President Joe Biden yesterday slammed ExxonMobil for not producing more oil, as soaring gas prices deplete Americans’ wallets and the US leader’s popularity ahead of midterm elections.
“Exxon made more money than God this year,” he said, advocating increasing taxes on oil companies.
ExxonMobil reported massive profits in the first three months of the year despite lower oil and natural gas volumes, as crude prices rose after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Oil companies “have 9,000 permits to drill. They’re not drilling. Why aren’t they drilling? Because they make more money not producing more oil,” Biden said in comments at the Port of Los Angeles hours after the government released a devastating inflation report reflecting soaring energy prices.
And with the higher profits, “they’re buying back their own stock, which should be taxed quite frankly. Buying back their own stock and making no new investments.” After a dreadful 2020 amid Covid-19 lockdowns that devastated petroleum demand, oil companies returned to profitability in 2021 and have continued to see earnings skyrocket this year.
ExxonMobil’s first-quarter profits more than doubled to US$5.5 billion (RM24.2 billion), and revenues rose 52.4 per cent to US$87.7 billion.
The petroleum giant also increased spending on share buybacks by US$20 billion, and while it has planned to increase capital spending in 2022, Exxon ruled out additional investment.
Biden, whose popularity has plummeted in the face of the highest inflation in four decades and sky-high gas prices.
Government data released yesterday showed the consumer price index jumped 8.6 per cent compared to May 2021, up from 8.3 per cent in the 12 months ending in April and topping what most economists thought was the peak in March.
Energy has soared 34.6 per cent over the past year, and fuel oil costs more than doubled, jumping 106.7 per cent, the largest increase in the history of CPI, which dates to 1935.
Oil prices have mostly lingered above US$100 a barrel after spiking to around US$130 a barrel in early March shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. American drivers are facing new record gas prices daily, with the national average hitting US$4.99 a gallon yesterday, according to AAA. — AFP