Big Oil CEOs testify today before the Senate Committee on Finance to defend the trillion dollars in profits they have made in the past decade thanks to you, the American consumer. Some in Congress will defend the billions of dollars in tax breaks and royalty relief taxpayers give to these same companies each year.
Public Citizen recently crunched the numbers and found that Big Oil’s profits aren’t the only eye-popping statistic – what the industry is spending its money on is equally astonishing. Big Oil lavishes more on stock buybacks, dividend payments, lobbying and marketing than on U.S. oil investments. Our research shows that since 2005, the largest five oil companies operating in the U.S. spent nearly half a trillion dollars buying back their own stock and paying dividends to shareholders. That’s more money than they spent investing in their U.S. infrastructure.
This contradicts the industry’s insistence that its billions of dollars a year in tax breaks are needed to create jobs and keep gas prices affordable. In fact, Big Oil’s investment decisions are driven by market prices of crude oil, not U.S. tax policy.
It’s time our leaders stop bowing to corporate interests and put an end to the “take the money and run” tactics of Big Oil that are nothing short of highway robbery.
While the speculation-fueled price of oil per barrel has continued to escalate, the underlying costs to produce oil haven’t. Consider this: On average, it costs $20 to produce a barrel of oil. Big Oil sells it to us for more than $100. This generates the massive cash flow that fuels oil companies’ profits and spending.