Jan 21, 2023 News
…says companies refuse to pay fair share despite US$200B in profits
Kaieteur News – Guyana may not have found the courage to implement windfall taxes on the massive revenues it contributed to ExxonMobil’s record earnings last year, but international activists, citizens and even governments are unwilling to let the oil companies go so easily.
Last year oil profits were reported as the best companies had had in decades; stemming from high demand following the ease of COVID-19 restrictions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine which saw restrictions on the Russian oil economy, the largest crude supplier to Europe until 2021.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a community of 30 million stakeholders working for the protection of the environment has called on citizens of the world to not let up on their demands from oil companies.
The US based group has in fact criticized big oil companies for fighting windfall taxes intended for them to pay their fair share given the unexpected revenues they would have amassed last year.
EWG said that the world’s largest oil companies raked in roughly US$200B in global profits in 2022 and will likely be flushed with similar returns this year, “even as they fight talk of a windfall profits tax” and oppose a plan by US regulators to end gas price gouging.
Despite the record-breaking revenue garnered last year, EWG said some oil executives have had the “gall to complain that the filthy rich sector is being “demonized” particularly in California, where the governor of that US state “wants Big Oil to stop fleecing hardworking Americans at the pump.”
EWG said that fourth-quarter reports for BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and Total Energies, which should all be made public by February, will show a combined profit of $199 billion, reported Refinitiv, a financial markets data firm quoted by Reuters.
“Yet the same Big Oil crowd whines about everyday people being upset that these companies are fleecing them,” EWG’s President and co-founder Ken Cook said. He related that, “big oil firms are gouging consumers, many struggling to pay the rising cost of commuting to work and school. And the industry is fighting efforts to hold them accountable. It’s pure, unadulterated greed, and no industry spin can change that,” Cook insisted.
EWG noted that the outrageous profits big oil companies made last year didn’t quell their anger toward paying windfall profit taxes in some countries. Exxon is suing the European Union over its recent windfall profit tax. And both Shell and Total Energies say each company will pay more than $2B in windfall profit taxes in the EU and Great Britain.
The Group said there is no such tax on these and other oil giants in the U.S., but last October, President Joe Biden condemned the oil industry for reaping record profits but not lowering gas prices that have battered U.S. consumers. At the time, EWG said it urged the US President and Congress to support legislation that would impose a windfall profit tax.
EWG reported that in a recent interview with Bloomberg, Chevron’s CEO, Mike Wirth, sought to downplay the industry’s record profits, calling his own company’s almost $40 billion haul in 2022 a “modest return.”
It was stated that while these oil companies are enjoying all-time high windfall profits, paychecks for working- and middle-class people are taking an enormous hit, forcing families to make difficult decisions between the need to commute and the rising costs of living.
“The situation is particularly dire in California, where just five oil refiners produce nearly 100 percent of the gas sold in the state. They get to set the price per gallon at every gas station, resulting in California having astronomical gas prices far higher than the rest of the country.”
Late last year, the typical price for a gallon of gas in California was nearly twice the national average – as high as $7 in some areas of the state. That prompted Newsom and members of the state Legislature to push a proposal that would levy penalties on the state’s oil refiners, which have reaped record profits on the backs of hard-working people, and return the money to Californians through refunds. In response to Newsom’s plan, Western States Petroleum Association President Catherine Reheis-Boyd said, “demonizing the oil industry must stop.”
Last August, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged nations apply measures that would allow them part of the massive cash oil companies were making. He described it as “grotesque greed” by oil and gas companies and their financers. He urged global government to tax these excessive profits to support the most vulnerable people and shield them from unscrupulous oil operators.
Guterres had said, “It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the backs of the poorest people and communities, at a massive cost to the climate.” In light of the sensational profits, US President Biden has even described the oil companies as making “more money than God.”
Essequibo is we own, can we say the same about the oil?
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