Exxon set a historic high for the Western oil industry, taking home about $6.3 million per hour last year as oil prices surged amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
ExxonMobil reaped a record US$55.7 billion in profit last year, bringing home about $6.3 million per hour, the oil giant said on Tuesday. The total was more than double 2021’s figure and far exceeded the prior record of $45.2 billion set in 2008, making it the most profitable year ever for any American and European fossil fuel company.
Exxon chairman and CEO Darren Woods credited “a favourable market” for the stellar annual profits – a combination of record-high gasoline prices and increased home-heating costs since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and recovery activity after the pandemic – but also praised the company for taking advantage of the undersupplied, post-Covid19 market.
“While our results clearly benefited from a favourable market, the counter-cyclical investments we made before and during the pandemic provided the energy and products people needed as economies began recovering and supplies became tight. We leaned in when others leaned out,” Exxon boss said.
While Woods celebrated the figure, the White House called it “outrageous” in a statement released on Tuesday.
“The latest earnings reports make clear that oil companies have everything they need, including record profits and thousands of unused but approved permits, to increase production, but they’re instead choosing to plow those profits into padding the pockets of executives and shareholders while House Republicans manufacture excuse after excuse to shield them from any accountability,” said White House’s spokesman Abdullah Hasan.
Besides Exxon, other energy companies also posted record earnings. Last week, Chevron Corp. announced profits of $35.5 billion for 2022, more than double those of 2021, driven up by a record annual cash flow from oil operations of $49.6 billion.
Exxon, Chevron, and other oil giants BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies are poised to record a combined $190 billion in profits for 2022. Together, the companies are responsible for more than 10% of global carbon emissions since 1965.
A 2021 research examining their clean energy transition activity found that, despite a marked increase in climate action and pledges on decarbonisation as well as the use of keywords such as “climate”, “low-carbon’”, and “transition” between 2009 and 2020, there is no real evidence of a transition towards clean energy business models.
“The companies are pledging a transition to clean energy and setting targets more than they are making concrete actions”, the researchers write in the study. On the contrary, evidence points that companies are increasing rather than decreasing oil exploration. Moreover, while none of the companies directly releases data on their clean energy investments, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project, ExxonMobil has reportedly only spent 0.2% of its annual capital expenditure on clean energy, whereas BP dedicated 2.3%.
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