On Apr 1, 8:34*pm, wrote:
Oilchiefs say highpricesnot our fault
By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer 1 minute ago
WASHINGTON - Don't blame us,oilindustry chiefs told a skeptical
Congress. Top executives of the country's five biggestoilcompanies
said Tuesday they know record fuelpricesare hurting people, but they
argued it's not their fault and their huge profits are in line with
Appearing before a House committee, the executives were pressed to
explain why they should continue to get billions of dollars in tax
breaks when they made $123 billion last year and motorists are paying
record gasolinepricesat the pump.
"On April Fool's Day, the biggest joke of all is being played on
American families by BigOil," Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said,
aiming his remarks at the five executives sitting shoulder-to-shoulder
in a congressional hearing room.
"Our earnings, although high in absolute terms, need to be viewed in
the context of the scale and cyclical, long-term nature of our
industry as well as the huge investment requirements," said J.S.
Simon, senior vice president of Exxon Mobil Corp., which made a record
$40 billion last year.
"We depend on high earnings during the up cycle to sustain ...
investment over the long term, including the down cycles," he
The up cycle has been going on too long, suggested Rep. Emanuel
Cleaver, D-Mo. "The anger level is rising significantly."
Alluding to the fact that Congress often doesn't rate very high in
opinion polls, Cleaver told the executives: "Your approval rating is
lower than ours, and that means you're down low."
Several lawmakers noted the rising price of gasoline at the pump, now
averaging $3.29 a gallon amid talk of $4 a gallon this summer.
"I heard what you are hearing. Americans are very worried about the
rising price of energy," said John Hofmeister, president of ShellOil
Co., echoing remarks by the other four executives including
representatives of BP America Inc., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips.
While Democrats hammered the executives for their profits and demanded
they do more to develop alternative energy sources such as wind, solar
and biofuels, Republican lawmakers called for opening more areas for
drilling to boost domestic production ofoiland gas.
What would bring lowerprices? asked Rep. James Sensenbrenner of
Wisconsin, the committee's ranking Republican
"We need access to all kinds of energy supply," replied Robert Malone,
chairman of BP America, adding that 85 percent of the country's
coastal waters are off limits to drilling.
But Markey wanted to know why the companies aren't investing more in
energy projects other thanoiland gas -- or giving up some tax breaks
so the money could be directed to promote renewable fuels and
conservation and take pressure offoiland gas supplies.
"Why is Exxon Mobil resisting the renewable revolution," asked Markey,
noting that the other four companies together have invested $3.5
billion in solar, wind and biodiesel projects.
Exxon is spending $100 million on research into climate change at
Stanford University, replied Simon, but current alternative energy
technologies "just do not have an appreciable impact" in addressing
"the challenge we're trying to meet."
The appearance Tuesday before the Select Committee on Energy
Independence and Global Warming was not the first time thatoil
executives had faced the harsh words of a lawmakers frustrated over
their inability to do anything about soaringoiland gasoline costs.
In November 2005, executives of the same companies sought to explain
high energy costs at a Senate hearing at which Hofmeister emphasized
the cyclical nature of his industry. "What goes up almost always comes
down," he told the senators on a day whenoilcost $60 a barrel.
About six months later, the executives were grilled again on Capitol
Hill when a barrel ofoilcost $75. As the three-hour House hearing
came to a close Tuesday, the price ofoilsettled at just over $100 a
barrel on the New York exchange.
"We face a new reality, volatility, highprices, greater competition
for resources," said Peter Robertson, vice president of Chevron Corp.,
adding that he understands that "Americans see the pain" of $100-a-
Markey challenged the executives to pledge to invest 10 percent of
their profits to develop renewable energy and give up $18 billion in
tax breaks over 10 years so money could be funneled to support other
energy and conservation.
They responded that their companies already are spending on
alternative energy projects and argued that new taxes would dampen
investment and could lead to even higherprices.
"Imposing punitive taxes on American energy companies, which already
pay record taxes, will discourage the sustained investment needed to
continue safeguarding U.S. energy security," said Simon. He said over
the past five years Exxon Mobil's U.S. tax bill exceeded its U.S.
earnings by $19 billion.
Markey was not impressed.
"These companies are defending billions of federal subsidies ... while
reaping over a hundred billion dollars in profits in just the last
year alone," he said. The companies are reaping "a windfall of
revenue" while poor people have to choose between heating and eating
because of high energyprices.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, many independent truckers parked their rigs and
others slowed to a crawl on highways to protest high fuelprices. The
demonstrations were only scattered, but long lines of trucks were
moving at about 20 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike, and three drivers
were ticketed for impeding traffic on Interstate 55 outside Chicago,
driving three abreast at low speeds.
Attacks against oil:
Jan 15, 2006 - Nigeria
Gunmen attack Shell oil plant in Nigeria UPDATE
Jan. 26, 2006 - Nigeria
Nigerian manhunt after oil attack
Feb. 18, 2006 - Nigeria
Militants Attack Nigerian Oil Facilities, Seize Nine Foreign Workers
Feb. 25, 2006 - Saudi Arabia
Car bombers attack Saudi Arabia's oil processing facility
Mar. 30, 2006 - Iraq
Oil refinery workers gunned down in Iraq
June 7, 2006 - Nigeria
Militants attack Nigeria oil field
Nov. 27, 2006 - Iraq
Mortar attack ignites huge fire at North Oil Co. refinery in Kirkuk
Dec. 7, 2006 - Nigeria
Gunmen attack Nigeria oil export station
*note: this one is funny, b/c they kidnapped 4 people, and demanded
"compensation for environmental pollution")
Feb. 14, 2007 - Canada
Al-Qaeda calls for attacks on Canadian oil facilities
*note: not an attack, but confirms the over-all agenda that links all
Apr. 24, 2007 - Ethiopia
Scores die in Ethiopia oil attack
Apr. 28, 2007 - Saudi Arabia
172 oil-attack suspects arrested
*note: this wasn't an attack, but a busted plot
July 10, 2007 - Mexico
Mexico rebels claim oil attacks
Sept. 11, 2007 - Mexico
Second Pemex Attack Rocks Mexico
Sept. 23, 2007 - Iraq
Internal Iraq oil pipeline cut by bomb - police
Oct. 15, 2007 - Iraq
Basra oil attack marks dangerous change
Oct. 19, 2007 - Iraq
Bombers attack pipelines feeding Iraqi refineries
Nov. 15, 2007 - Nigeria
Nigeria hit by new oil pipeline attack
Nov. 28, 2007 - Saudi Arabia
Saudi arrests 208 militants, foils oil attack
*note: this wasn't an attack, but a busted plot
Dec. 10, 2007 - Iraq
Baghdad oil refinery ablaze after rocket attack
Jan. 15, 2008 - Iraq
Iraq refinery shut down after mortar attack
Feb. 15, 2008 - USA/Texas
Explosion Reported at South Texas Oil Pipeline
*note: this may or may not be intentional/terror-related
Feb. 28, 2008 - Nigeria
Oil prices climb back above US$100 a barrel after attack on Nigerian
Apr. 21, 2008 - Nigeria
Oil production cuts in Nigeria following attacks
Apr. 21, 2008 - Yemen
Oil Market Rattled by Attack on Tanker