At a glance: Oil companies see record profits in 2021

(NewsNation) — All four of the major oil companies saw record profits in 2021. But the picture is more complicated than just earnings statements.

Here is what we know:

In 2021, Exxon Mobil made a record profit of $23 billion. But the profits gained came after it lost $22.4 billion in 2020 because of the pandemic.

This is a very similar story for Chevron, BP and Shell. They all had major record profits in 2021, after losing billions in 2020.

This is partially why some oil company executives say that they’re choosing to do stock buybacks to put money back in shareholders’ pockets, instead of increasing oil production, which would bring down the costs for the rest of us.

Last week, President Joe Biden reiterated his call for large oil and gas companies to put their profits to use producing more oil.

“Give the American people a break,” he said, by “passing some of the savings on to their customers and lowering the price at the pump.”

Biden also called for a “Use It or Lose It” policy, saying Congress should make oil and gas companies pay fees on oil wells on federal leases that haven’t been used in years.

“Either start producing or pay the price for inaction,” he said. “Companies have an obligation that goes beyond their shareholders.”

Nearly 60% of oil executives say that they aren’t drilling for more oil now because of investor pressure. Their investors want their money back after the volatility of the energy market during the pandemic.

And as gas prices continue to soar, SEC filings from the largest oil and gas companies show they’ve collectively completed $45.6 billion worth of buybacks since the start of last year.


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