Record Prices Mean Record Profits for Oil Companies

ByABC News
August 11, 2005, 5:01 PM

Aug. 11, 2005 — -- As American consumers increasingly feel the pinch at the pump, oil companies have watched their profits soar.

The newest numbers from the second quarter of this year show Exxon Mobil with a 32 percent increase in earnings over this time last year -- that's more than $7.6 billion.

BP saw a profit increase of 38 percent, totaling $6.7 billion, while Conoco Phillips -- the third largest oil company in the country -- recorded a 56 percent increase in profit, more than $3 billion.

"The huge profits are enormous because the public is drastically overpaying what it costs to produce," said Joan Claybrook, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Many of these companies long ago bought oil reserves at prices of $10 to $25 a barrel. With prices peaking near the $67 mark, the profit margin has been enormous.

Even more eye-opening is the profit in Saudi Arabia. Saudis are making an average of $208 million more each day since the increase in crude oil prices first began in December 2003.

But many wonder if any of those increasing profits -- overseas and at home -- are being spent on energy solutions to solve refinery woes and shrinking U.S. oil production.

"The answer is yes, but the impact of those is not immediate," said Mike Rothman, the head of integrated oil research for the International Strategy & Investment Group.

Consumer advocates say Congress is doing nothing to speed up the process, instead passing an energy bill that gives tax breaks to the oil industry.

"They [the oil industry] got $6 billion in the energy bill over 10 years. That's a huge, huge amount of money," said Claybrook. "And you'd think with the price of oil at $65 a barrel, they didn't need any new incentives."

ABC News' David Muir filed this report for "World News Tonight."