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BP – Oil Watchdog http://oilwatchdog.org Insider news and analysis from America's top Consumer Advocates. Fri, 08 Oct 2010 00:37:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Exxon Is Holdout on MTBE http://oilwatchdog.org/exxon-is-holdout-on-mtbe/ http://oilwatchdog.org/exxon-is-holdout-on-mtbe/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/05/exxon-is-holdout-on-mtbe/ 5-8-08 by dugan

A national lawsuit over water pollution from a gasoline additive was more than half-settled yesterday when four of the five major oil comanies agreed to pay $423 million in cleanup and other costs. Chevron, Shell, BP, Conoco and several smaller companies did what’s right, and will escape years more of litigation costs. Exxon, which can no doubt afford to litigate until the world ends, was the only major holdout.

The suits, being heard in a New York court, involved the gasoline additive MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, which was mixed with gasoline for cleaner burning in the 1980s and 1990s. The chemical leaked from underground tanks and ultimately polluted groundwater supplies in many states, endangering drinking water. 

Exxon’s response to the settlement was that it was just doing what government wanted, and has no liability. I haven’t seen any news reports on the settlement that challenge this "government made me do it" statement. However, oil companies chose to use MTBE, rather than other clean-air oxygenates like methanol or ethanol, in part because their own chemical divisions manufactured MTBE. And even before MTBE went into use, oil industry insiders were privately warning of its pollution danger.

Excerpts from a long report, linked above, by the Environmental Working Group:

In a 1995 deposition, a top ARCO executive admitted under oath, "The
EPA did not initiate reformulated gasoline…." He clarified that "the
oil industry… brought this [MTBE] forward as an alternative to what
the EPA had initially proposed." [Excerpt | Full document]

By 1986, the oil industry was adding 54,000 barrels of MTBE to
gasoline each day. By 1991, one year before the EPA requirements went
into effect, the industry was using more than 100,000 barrels of MTBE
per day in reformulated gasoline. [View document]
Yet secret oil company studies, conducted at least as early as 1980,
showed the industry knew that MTBE contaminated ground water virtually
everywhere it was used.

Oil Companies Knew MTBE Was a Threat to Water Supplies

Even though MTBE was not classified as a probable cause of cancer in
humans until 1995, refiners knew much earlier that its powerfully foul
taste and smell meant that small concentrations could render water
undrinkable, and that once it got into water supplies it was all but
impossible to clean up. A Shell hydrogeologist testified in the South
Lake Tahoe case that he first dealt with an MTBE spill in 1980 in
Rockaway, N.J., where seven MTBE plumes were leaking from underground
storage tanks. [Excerpt | Full document]
By 1981, when the Shell scientist wrote an internal report on the
Rockaway plumes, the joke inside Shell was that MTBE really stood for
“Most Things Biodegrade Easier.” Later, other versions of the joke
circulated, including “Menace Threatening Our Bountiful Environment,”
or apropos to the present attempt to limit liability, “Major Threat to
Better Earnings.” [Excerpt | Full document] and [Excerpt | Full document]

In 1983, Shell was one of at least nine companies surveyed by a task
force of the American Petroleum Institute on “the environmental fate
and health effects” of MTBE and other oxygenates. Shell’s Environmental
Affairs department replied to the trade association: “In our spill
situation the MTBE was detectable (by drinking) in 7 to 15 parts per
billion so even if it were not a factor to health, it still had to be removed to below the detectable amount in order to use the water.” (emphasis added). [View document]
The survey, the results of which were later distributed to all API
members, asked for information about the number and extent of spills,
chemical analysis of the spill and the contaminated water, and health
effects to people in the community.

Clearly, Shell was not the only company that knew about MTBE
problems. An environmental engineer for ExxonMobil (the companies
merged in 1999), testified that he learned of MTBE contamination from
Exxon gasoline in 1980, when a tank leak in Jacksonville, Maryland,
fouled wells for a planned subdivision. The ExxonMobil engineer said it
was learned MTBE had also leaked into the subdivision’s wells from a
Gulf and an Amoco station. [View document]

 

 

 

 

 

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Chevron’s Record 1st Qtr Profit http://oilwatchdog.org/chevrons-record-1st-qtr-profit/ http://oilwatchdog.org/chevrons-record-1st-qtr-profit/#respond Fri, 02 May 2008 12:22:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/05/chevrons-record-1st-qtr-profit/
NEWS RELEASE:

Chevron Rides Soaring Crude Oil Prices To Record Profit As Consumers Feel Squeeze At Pump

Santa Monica, CA — Chevron today posted record first-quarter profits
of $5.17 billion while Californians struggled with soaring gas prices
climbing over $4 a gallon. Consumer Watchdog condemned the company’s
profiteering and pointed to Big Oil historical data at the group’s "Oil Profits Monster"database.

Chevron joined the other Big Five oil companies in posting record
first-quarter earnings riding on the cushion of soaring crude oil
prices, Consumer Watchdog said, as it called on President Bush and
Congress to act to cut the price of crude oil, which is largely driven
by speculation in the commodity markets.

The quarter was Chevron’s second best quarter ever. Chevron’s profits
from so-called upstream oil production soared 76 percent to $5.13
billion because of the soaring price of crude oil.  Chevron’s profit
soared 10 percent to $5.17 billion from $4.72 in the first quarter of
2007.  (“Oil Profits Monster” quarterly data and charts for Chevron
will be updated by 11 am PDT.)

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog called on Bush to
immediately stop buying market-priced oil for the federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve, which is at record high levels above 700 million
barrels, and start selling a fraction of the reserve back into the
market. The group and its Oilwatchdog.org project have also called for
Congress to quell market speculation and end taxpayer subsidies to oil
companies (see below).

“We’ve seen proposals for a gas tax holiday from the presidential
campaign trail, but in fact these are little more than political
gimmicks,” said John  M. Simpson, consumer advocate with Consumer
Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights).
“President Bush and Congress must act immediately and take the obvious
steps to end the crisis that threatens not only every consumer but our
entire economy.”

Consumer Watchdog said there is no strategic benefit more important
than using the oil reserve to aid consumers and offset energy
inflation. (See Consumer Watchdog’s letter to President Bush here.
But Bush continues to turn a deaf ear to such calls. At a Rose Garden
News Conference this week Bush refused to stop purchases for the
reserve.  He also blamed Congress for not allowing oil drilling in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) even though it would take a
decade before oil could be obtained if drilling were allowed today.

Independent oil analyst Tim Hamilton was also  skeptical of proposals
for a gas tax holiday saying they might be well intentioned, but
wouldn’t work. “The price at the pump is set by the oil companies to
ration the available supplies of motor fuel,” he said. “ If the tax
came off, consumers and truckers would simply be disappointed as the
oil companies raised the price the same amount, effectively
transferring all the suspended tax into the corporate coffers, which
are already overflowing from the record profits."

Chevron said it bought back $2 billion of its own stock.

“This is money that could have been invested in alternative energy
research or capital expansion. It’s wrong to use their excessive
profits to buy shares and drive up the stock price,” said Simpson.
“That only benefits executives whose excessive bonuses are tied to
stock performance.”

The company said its refining profits were little more than break-even
because it could not pass through the soaring cost of crude oil.
Executives from the other Big Five — ConocoPhillips, Shell, BP and
Exxon Mobil — in announcing their results over the last week all said
they had been unable to pass through all costs of higher crude. The
current upward spike in pump prices is unlikely to stop even if  crude
oil prices abate, because refiners are now working to boost profits on
that end of the business.
 
Consumer Watchdog has called for:
 
– Action by President Bush to stop adding to federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve and sell from the reserve to stabilize and drive down
oil futures price.  Link to CW letter to White House here.
 
– Closure of the “Enron Loophole” in commodity trading regulation. A
regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Carl Levin) would regulate trading markets to help stop
speculative oil pricing. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment here.)
Regulators should also increase the amount of margin funds that traders
must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation.
 
– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill (HR 5351) funded by
withdrawing $1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to
oil companies. This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up
in the Senate, where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to block
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby.
 
– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in gasoline production.
 
Consumer Watchdog (formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights) is a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy
organization.
 
For more information, see www.ConsumerWatchdog.org or www.OilWatchdog.org

– 30 –

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Exxon Posts More Record Profits http://oilwatchdog.org/exxon-posts-more-record-profits/ http://oilwatchdog.org/exxon-posts-more-record-profits/#respond Thu, 01 May 2008 10:31:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/05/exxon-posts-more-record-profits/ NEWS RELEASE

May 01, 2008

ExxonMobil Profits Soar to Record On Speculative Oil Prices While Consumers and Economy Suffer

Santa Monica, CA — Record first-quarter profits, up a staggering 17
percent to $10.89 billion reported today by ExxonMobil, the world’s
largest oil company, came as the result of crude oil profits driven by
unregulated speculative trading, said Consumer Watchdog.  Soaring
gasoline and diesel prices have devastated the U.S. economy and helped
push consumers deeper into debt, yet President Bush and Congress have
engaged in mindless finger-pointing and failed to take obvious steps to
ease the pain.

“With gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon in some cities and averaging
$3.60 nationwide, nobody is surprised to see the latest string of
outrageous profits posted by Big Oil,”  said John M. Simpson, consumer
advocate with Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer
and Consumer Rights). “But what people cannot understand — and will
not forget — is that their elected representatives are shirking their
responsibility to take obvious steps that will ease the crisis.”

“People are driving less, but for every trip they cancel, rising prices
at the pump more than wipe out their savings,” said Simpson. “They pay
a second time as inflation at the grocery store is driven by fuel
surcharges on every truck delivery.”

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog and its Oilwatchdog.org
project have called for action to quell market speculation and cut back
taxpayer subsidies to oil companies (see below), but the most obvious
immediate action is for the White House to stop buying market-priced
oil for the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is at record
high levels above 700 million barrels, and start selling a fraction of
the reserve back into the market.

At a Rose Garden News Conference this week Bush refused to stop
purchases for the reserve.  He also blamed Congress for not allowing
oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) even though
it would take a decade before oil could be obtained if drilling were
allowed today.
 
“Purchases for the reserve, at these record oil prices, come straight
from the pockets of taxpayers, and by taking oil off the market they
fuel continued speculation,” said Judy Dugan, Consumer Watchdog
research director. “Yet President Bush has turned a deaf ear on pleas
by Congress and consumer advocates to take the small, painless and
beneficial step of curbing this excess. There is no strategic benefit
more important than using the oil reserve to aid consumers and offset
energy inflation.” (See Consumer Watchdog’s letter to President Bush here.)

Exxon’s profits were a record for a first quarter and were the second
highest ever for any U.S. corporation.  Exxon’s 2007 fourth quarter
earnings of $11.66 billion are the all time record. During the first
quarter of 2008 the oil giant piled up profits at the rate of $5.08
million an hour or $84,000 every minute. (See more historical data at Consumer Watchdog’s “Oil Profits Monster” database. Quarterly data and charts for Shell and BP will be updated by 11 am PDT.)

With the announcement of record profits, Exxon also said it had bought back $8 billion in its own shares.

“This is money that could have been used to lower prices for consumers
and invested in alternative energy research,” said Simpson. “Instead the company is taking a short-term, profit-maximizing approach that has even upset some of its most important shareholders.”

On Wednesday descendents of John D. Rockefeller, who founded Standard
Oil, ExxonMobil’s precursor, called a news conference in New York to
say the oil giant is overlooking its effect on the environment and the
future of alternative energy. They also backed a resolution that would
split the roles of chief executive officer and chairman, now held
jointly by Rex Tillerson.

“When America’s first family of oil speaks, ExxonMobil should pay attention,” said Simpson.

Tell ExxonMobil to shift its massive profits away from investing in oil, and towards renewable energy sources!

Exxon’s refining profits did not match the increases from oil sales,
but that was in part because the oil giant is selling its own petroleum
at inflated prices to their own refineries, said Consumer Watchdog. The
current upward spike in pump prices is unlikely to stop even if crude
oil prices abate, because refiners are now working to boost profits on
their end of the business.
 
“When one uses the spreadsheet to compare the price at the pump with
the quarterly company profit reports, it is clear the companies have
inflated bottom lines by raising pump prices far in excess of any
actual increased cost incurring from the highly publicized increase in
the commodity price of crude,” said Tim Hamilton, independent oil
analyst. “Since the average pump price for regular unleaded was back at
$3.11 during the first quarter, next quarter profit reports can be
expected to reflect prices approaching $4 at the pump and set yet
another new record.”

 
Consumer Watchdog has called for:
 
– Action by President Bush to stop adding to federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve and sell from the reserve to stabilize and drive down
oil futures price.  Link to CW letter to White House.
 
– Closure of the “Enron Loophole” in commodity trading regulation. A
regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Carl Levin) would regulate trading markets to help stop
speculative oil pricing. (See more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment.)
Regulators should also increase the amount of margin funds that traders
must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation.
 
– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill (HR 5351) funded by
withdrawing $1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to
oil companies. This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up
in the Senate, where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to block
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby.
 
– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in gasoline production.
 
Consumer Watchdog (formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights) is a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy
organization.
 
For more information, see www.consumerwatchdog.org or www.oilwatchdog.org  
 
– 30 –

 

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Shell & BP Record 1st Qtr Profits http://oilwatchdog.org/shell-bp-record-1st-qtr-profits/ http://oilwatchdog.org/shell-bp-record-1st-qtr-profits/#comments Tue, 29 Apr 2008 10:59:02 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/shell-bp-record-1st-qtr-profits/ NEWS RELEASE: 

April 29, 2008

Speculative Oil Price Brings Roof-Busting Profits to Shell, BP at Cost of Squeezed Consumers, Suffering Economy

Government’s ‘Business as Usual’ Stance Is Inexcusable as Pump Price Soars, Says Consumer Group

CONTACT: Judy Dugan, cell: 213-280-0175; or John Simpson, 310-392-0522, ext. 317

Santa Monica, CA — The first-quarter record profits reported today by
oil giants BP and Shell came almost entirely on crude oil profits
driven by speculative trading, said Consumer Watchdog. Spiraling
gasoline and diesel prices have crimped the U.S. economy and pushed
consumers deeper into credit card debt, yet the White House and
Congress have failed to take even small steps to ease the pain.
 
“No driver who is pumping $80 worth of regular into the minivan each
week will be surprised by the continuing run of profit records.” said
Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog (formerly the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights). “Consumers are driving
less, but for every trip they cancel, rising prices at the pump more
than wipe out their savings. They pay a second time as inflation at the
grocery store is driven by fuel surcharges on every truck delivery.”
 
The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog has called for action to
quell market speculation and cut back taxpayer subsidies to oil
companies (see below), but the most obvious immediate action is for the
White House to stop buying market-priced oil for the federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve, which is at record high levels above 700 million
barrels, and start selling a fraction of the reserve back into the
market.
 
“Purchases for the reserve, at these record oil prices, come straight
from the pockets of taxpayers, and by taking oil off the market they
fuel continued speculation,” said Dugan. “Yet President Bush has turned
a deaf ear on pleas by Congress and consumer advocates to take the
small, painless and beneficial step of curbing this excess. There is no
strategic benefit more important than using the oil reserve to aid
consumers and offset energy inflation.” (Click here to see Consumer Watchdog’s letter to President Bush.)

At his news conference today Bush refused to stop adding oil to the strategic reserve.
 
Shell’s $7.8 billion 1st quarter profit, 12 percent increase, was a
record, above what analysts had expected — and was less than $2
billion below the company’s entire yearly profit of $9.65 billion in
2002. BP’s $6.6 billion, 48 percent leap, was also a 1st quarter
record. (Click here to see more historical data at Consumer Watchdog’s “Oil Profits Monster” database.) Quarterly data and charts for Shell and BP will be updated by noon PDT.)
 
The companies’ refining profits did not match the increases from oil
sales, but that was in part because the oil giants are selling their
own petroleum at inflated prices to their own refineries, said Consumer
Watchdog. The current upward spike in pump prices is unlikely to stop
even if oil prices abate, because refiners are now working to boost
profits on their end of the business.
 
“When one uses the spreadsheet to compare the price at the pump with
the quarterly company profit reports, it is clear the companies have
inflated bottom lines by raising pump prices far in excess of any
actual increased cost incurring from the highly publicized increase in
the commodity price of crude, said Tim Hamilton, independent oil
analyst. “Since much of the current spike at the pump occurred in
March, next quarter profit reports can be expected to set yet another
new record.”
 
Consumer Watchdog has called for:
 
– Action by President Bush to stop adding to federal Strategic
Petroleum Reserve and sell from the reserve to stabilize and drive down
oil futures price. (Click here for to see CW letter to White House.)

– Closure of the “Enron Loophole” in commodity trading regulation. A
regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne
Feinstein and Carl Levin) would regulate trading markets to help stop
speculative oil pricing. (Click here to see more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment.)
Regulators should also increase the amount of margin funds that traders
must put up in energy markets to help suppress speculation.
 
– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill (HR 5351) funded by
withdrawing $1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to
oil companies. This measure, passed by the House, has not been taken up
in the Senate, where opponents are using a filibuster tactic to block
passage. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby.
 
– Oversight of refinery operations, including regulation of national
gasoline supplies. In the last decade, the average on-hand supply of
gasoline has dropped from 30 days’ worth to about 22 days. This makes
prices increasingly sensitive to any cuts in gasoline production.
 
Consumer Watchdog (formerly The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer
Rights) is a leading nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy
organization.
 

– 30 –

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Oil's 'Alternative Energy' Scam http://oilwatchdog.org/oils-alternative-energy-scam/ http://oilwatchdog.org/oils-alternative-energy-scam/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/oils-alternative-energy-scam/ 4-22-08 by dugan

When I look at oil company profit reports–which will soon reveal truly rabid profit increases in the 1st quarter of 2008–I just ignore the line on "alternative energy" spending. That’s because it is often the opposite of renewable energy. Mother Jones magazine’s latest issue has the perfect description of why:

"Across the board, the companies that control fossil fuels have begun
to respond to rising concern about global warming with what amounts to
a three-point strategy: First, make small overtures toward developing
renewable energy, and milk them for maximum PR value. Second, invest
more generously in carbon-based "alternative energy" that gets passed
off as green. Third, invoke the goal of energy independence to pump,
mine, transport, and sell more and more of the same old fuels to an
ever-hungrier market.

"One of the slipperiest tactics involves redefining what constitutes
clean energy. In a 2006 report, the oil-industry-friendly Institute for
Energy Research said that U.S. oil and gas companies had invested $98
billion in "emerging energy technologies" in North America from 2000 to
2005. But the vast majority of this funding went to develop "frontier
hydrocarbons"—new, often filthy methods of producing more oil and gas.
In fact, a report from the Center for American Progress found that
between 2001 and 2007, a period of unprecedented profits, the top five
private oil companies spent an average of just one-half of one percent
of total profits on renewable fuels. (BP and Shell topped the list at
1.2 percent; ExxonMobil occupied the bottom at 0."

The piece is largely about why the coal industry’s new greenwashing project, "carbon sequestration" (injecting coal’s CO2 emissions back into the ground) is both largely mythical and, if achieved, may be deadly dangerous. To wit:

"In addition to being difficult and expensive, [carbon sequestration] is potentially dangerous: In 1986, an eruption of CO2
from a naturally occurring pocket under a Cameroon lake bed instantly
suffocated nearly 1,800 people; leaks from an underground storage site
could be likewise deadly. "That stuff is crazy," says Tyson Slocum, who
heads Public Citizen’s energy project. "Totally unproven. Stuffing
hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the ground—there
are huge liabilities."

"For this reason, Slocum says, energy companies are pushing to
transfer as much legal and financial responsibility as possible to the
federal government. Last April industry lawyer Kipp Coddington of
Alston & Bird testified before a Senate committee that if the
industry was going to invest billions of dollars in carbon
sequestration, the related risks had to be "identified, quantified, and
minimized." As Slocum puts it, "Once underground, [the CO2] becomes the responsibility of the American people."

That’s like government handing doctors and hospitals a free pass to commit malpractice. Oops, I forgot–that’s what legislation curbing medical lawsuits already amounts to. 

 

 

 

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Not the Gas Station's Fault http://oilwatchdog.org/not-the-gas-stations-fault/ http://oilwatchdog.org/not-the-gas-stations-fault/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/not-the-gas-stations-fault/ 4-21-08 by dugan

 

I imagine a fair number of drivers think the guy at the corner gas station is raking it in, with the price at the pump getting near–or beyond–$4.00 a gallon. But it ain’t so. The Oil Express newsletter (big subscription barrier, so no link), which is aimed at fuel retailers, notes that the percentage of the sale price kept by gas station operators is down, not up:

 "When petroleum distributors and retailers talk about profit crunches,
they often recollect 2002 as the worst of times, at least for the last fifteen
years. But 2008 has brought the worst circumstances in a generation,
thanks to relentless advances in wholesale costs, flat to lower sales, and a
cash flow squeeze that puts the most capable credit managers on a
company’s hot seat.
"At presstime, year-to-date gross rack-to-retail margins for unleaded
regular just slipped below 4% of the total sales price. In contrast, the
“poor” 2002 year delivered an average wholesale margin of 7.2%, and
the twelve-month average margin in 2007 was 5.0%. Taking into consideration
higher overhead costs, and a larger percentage of gross margin
eaten up by credit card fees, the first 105 days of 2008 appear to have no
misery equal."

Yes, 4% of the price of a gallong of gasoline that costs $4.00 is actually more than 7.2% in 2002, when the pump price was $1.20 a gallon. But credit card costs are also higher by percentage. So it’s not the guy actually taking your money who’s getting filthy rich. It’s the oil companies themselves, and we’ll know just how rich this week, when the big-5 oil companies report 1st quarter profits.

Another point made in Oil Express is that the supply and demand situation has barely changed since 2002. The explanation is couched in oil industry lingo, but we get the drift:

"Remarkably, the U.S. fundamentals for gasoline supply don’t show a
huge departure when compared to six years ago. In 2002, EIA measured
gasoline demand through mid-April at 8.467 million b/d. In 2008, the
number is 9.049 million b/d, and many observers feel that number is
probably an overstatement.

"In 2002, gasoline inventories in mid-April stood at 210.6 million bbl.
Last week’s EIA stats recorded 215.8 million bbl of motor fuel. On a
days’ supply basis, the 2002 number added up to 24.7 days, compared
to this year’s 23.5 days. But there was little ethanol in the 2002 numbers,
and when those inventories are counted, there may be more of a supply
cushion this year."

In any case, there’s no point in yelling at the guy in the little convenience store. Too bad we can’t conveniently yell at the CEOs, though. 

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Green Half-Truths http://oilwatchdog.org/green-half-truths/ http://oilwatchdog.org/green-half-truths/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/04/green-half-truths/ 4-02-08 by dugan

 

 

I didn’t get time yesterday to post on a House select committee’s grilling of executives from the major oil companies, but as the chairman, Rep. Ed Markey  of Massachusetts, pointedly said, "there will be many more." (If you’ve got a question you’d like to have posed to Big Oil, please post it here as a comment or send it along to owd@oilwatchdog.com ).

The oil guys didn’t give an inch, defending their record profits and even threatening to reduce "investments needed to continue safeguarding safeguarding U.S. energy security" if Congress dares reduce their tax subsidies to fund renewable energy development. (Exxon V.P. J.S. Simon, in his opening remarks).

The committee members’ attitudes split right along party lines, which isn’t surprising. But not even the harsher critics did much follow-up on the many evasions and exaggerations. BP’s top U.S. executive, Robert Malone, made a big deal of his company’s investments in solar and wind power, for instance. Yet BP, which once greenly branded itself as "Beyond Petroleum" appears likely to sell off its whole renewable energy division, to boost shareholder value. 

Exxon did take flak for spending only $100 million on renewables, and that only on research, compared to last year’s $40.6 billion profit. But most of the committee members seemed to think $100 million was Exxon’s yearly expenditure. Nope, it’s only $10 million a year, on a 10-year project at Stanford.  And even that comes with tight, controlling strings attached.

Chevron, Shell and Conoco made lots of green noises about their small renewable-energy projects, but weren’t really pressed as to exactly why their retail gas stations don’t sell renewable fuels, particularly E85. (Here’s the reason: Chevron and friends make it forbiddingly hard and expensive to do so.) 

Of course, since the oil execs weren’t sworn to the truth, why bother to tell the whole of it?

Here’s hoping that future hearings will feature sworn testimony, that members will use this first session to hone their follow-up skills, and that one of these days the Senate will get around to voting for the House-passed bill to take back some of those oil subsidies. One thing this hearing did prove beyond a shadow of a doubt is that Big Oil isn’t going to turn renewable energy into a competitor to oil.  

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Chevron in Iraq: Who'll Pay? http://oilwatchdog.org/chevron-in-iraq-wholl-pay/ http://oilwatchdog.org/chevron-in-iraq-wholl-pay/#respond Tue, 30 Nov 1999 00:00:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/03/chevron-in-iraq-wholl-pay/ 3-25-08 by dugan

 

If the major oil companies start making deals to pump Iraqi oil, who will protect their investments? If these investments become "a fact on the ground" while the U.S. still occupies Iraq, won’t they become the responsibility of U.S. troops, and taxpayer resources? Unfortunately, it’s happening faster than most of us know.

A story that’s been too-little reported in mainstream media is major oil companies’ attempts to make individual deals with the Iraqi government. The San Francisco Chronicle’s David Baker makes up for some of that lack today with his tale of a foot-in-the-door campaign by Chevron and other major companies including BP, Exxon and Shell. Of course, Chevron won’t even admit a deal is in the offing and won’t talk to the reporter, but it’s good indirect reporting.

The story says:

"The short-term contracts,
called technical support agreements, may be an attempt by the Oil
Ministry to make an end-run around legislators. The Iraqi Cabinet
reportedly approved the move."

An "oil law" that would hand over substantial control, especially of new discoveries, to multinational oil companies has stalled in the Iraqi parliament over both oil company control and how to divvy the proceeds among battling ethnic groups. So oil companies and Iraqi officials are looking for a way around it, especially in a time of $100 oil.

In a time where lines of authority in Iraq are uncertain, and the U.S. bears much of the responsibility for establishing security (at the cost of soldiers’ lives), there is every likelihood that a contract made by Iraqi officials will have to be fulfilled with the aid of the American military. Every obligation established now could make the end of the U.S. occupation harder. The costs of protection will fall on U.S. taxpayers, while Iraq and Chevron split the profits.

If the oil companies’ Iraq gambles end up destroyed or shut down by civil war, we can imagine what it would do to world oil prices. 

Before allowing these deals to be inked, Congress needs to understand, in detail, what they mean to U.S. policy, and act according.

 

 

 

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CA Gas Price Tops Hawaii http://oilwatchdog.org/ca-gas-price-tops-hawaii/ http://oilwatchdog.org/ca-gas-price-tops-hawaii/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2008 13:44:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/03/ca-gas-price-tops-hawaii/ NEWS RELEASE – Contact: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522, x 305 (cell: 213 280-0175), or Jamie Court, x 327 

Californians Say Aloha (in the Bye-Bye Sense) to Their Savings — State Gasoline Price Tops Hawaii

California’s Record Pump Price is $3.634, Usual Leader Hawaii Drops to $3.62 — Group Praises Hawaii Effort to Expose Profits

Santa Monica, CA — In a reversal of the usual gasoline price pattern,
the isolated market of Hawaii now has cheaper gasoline than California,
said the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. In addition,
Hawaii’s Legislature is proposing to require that oil refiners open
their books on their costs and profits, a move that FTCR has long
advocated in California and nationally.
 
While Hawaii dropped a little to $3.62 a gallon today for regular,
California hit another daily record at $3.634, per AAA. In addition,
because of its “hot fuel” law, Hawaii compensates for its high gasoline
temperatures by selling a slightly larger gallon at the pump. The total
difference is more than a nickel a gallon, said FTCR (see details
below).
 
“When Hawaii’s gasoline price drops below California’s, it’s a signal
that prices are separating from reality in the U.S. West,” said Judy
Dugan, research director of FTCR and its OilWatchdog project. “Crude
oil prices have started dropping and the national average gasoline
price eased a fraction of a cent on AAA today, but there’s no signal
yet that Western gasoline prices will follow.”
 
Even in Washington State, which uses plain regular gasoline instead of
a clean-air formula, and also has lower gasoline taxes, the price per
gallon is a record $3.528, noted FTCR.
 
Hawaii legislators are at least taking action to control the usual
spring runup in gasoline prices and refinery profits, said FTCR. The
Hawaii legislation (SB 2630) has passed the state Senate and is being
considered in the House, reports the Honolulu TV station KHON (Click here to view print version of story.)

The bill would require nearly every segment of the state’s refining
industry to disclose the cost of doing business in Hawaii. Oil and gas
companies would be required to file a report every six months on  such
items as the cost of crude oil, refinery operating expenses, marketing
operating expenses, and corporate overhead.
 
“The oil industry is lobbying furiously against Hawaii’s proposal, but
it’s nothing more than a little sunshine on the dark hole of gasoline
pricing,” said Dugan. “California lawmakers caved in to oil industry
pressure last year and failed last year to pass a much milder version
of a disclosure bill. They owe it to California’s stressed-out
motorists to do it this year.”
 
Hawaii’s retail gallon of gasoline is larger than in the rest of the
U.S. because of the state’s “hot fuel” law. Hawaii is warm year-round,
and so is gasoline sold in the state, averaging over 80 degrees.
Gasoline expands and loses energy as it heats up. Hawaii requires a
gallon slightly more than 1% larger than the U.S. standard, a
hypothetical  “60-degree” gallon.
 
“In reality, Hawaii’s gasoline is more than a nickel cheaper than
California’s, because drivers are already getting four cents extra
worth of gasoline in each gallon,” said Dugan. “No wonder oil companies
and marketers are so opposed to giving motorists in California and
other warm states a fair measure of fuel by compensating for fuel
temperature on retail sales.”
 
See OilWatchdog.org for more information on hot fuel and efforts to stop the ripoff.

FTCR and OilWatchdog have also called for:
 
– Swift action to close the Enron Loophole in commodity trading
regulation. A regulatory measure in the federal farm bill (S.2058 by
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin) would help stop speculative oil
pricing. (Click here to see more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment. )  

– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill funded by withdrawing
$1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to oil companies.
This measure, passed by the House, faces an uncertain future in the
Senate. A similar House measure was removed from the federal energy
bill by the Senate last year under pressure from the oil lobby. (Click here to see text of HR 5351.

– Statements of intent by the presidential candidates. Today’s
presidential candidates must do more than make disapproving noises
about today’s energy crisis, said OilWatchdog. They must let voters
know how they plan to keep the oil lobby out of the White House and
stop this from happening again.

– 30 –

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Record Prices Hammer Economy http://oilwatchdog.org/record-prices-hammer-economy/ http://oilwatchdog.org/record-prices-hammer-economy/#respond Mon, 10 Mar 2008 13:56:00 +0000 http://server11.fusednetwork.com/~oilwatch/2008/03/record-prices-hammer-economy/ NEWS RELEASE
March 10, 2008

CONTACT: Judy Dugan, 310-392-0522, ext. 305, or Jamie Court, ext. 327

Daily Record Prices for Oil, Gasoline Hammer Consumers and U.S. Economy

Group Calls for Swift Action to Curb, Regulate Energy Speculators, ‘Today’s Enron Rogues’

Santa Monica, CA — Congress and President Bush must take joint
action against the speculators who have driven oil and gasoline prices
past all-time records, said OilWatchdog.org, a project of the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. Gasoline prices nationally
are expected today to surpass last year’s record of $3.227, and
California, at $3.571 per gallon as calculated by AAA, is more than 7
cents a gallon over last year’s record.

"There is no shortage of gasoline, no shortage of crude oil,
no underlying market reason for these excruciating record prices," said
Judy Dugan, research director of OilWatchdog and the nonprofit,
nonpartisan FTCR. "Speculators and hedge funds, today’s Enron rogues,
are driving an economic disaster by pouring billions into bets on
continually rising prices."

Oil today spiked to more than $107.00 a barrel, though the
U.S. dollar stabilized in value against other currencies including the
Euro. A weak dollar, in any case, is not nearly reason enough for spot
oil prices to be more than double last year’s January low of just above
$51 a barrel, said OilWatchdog. Last March, as gasoline prices started
spiking to their previous record, oil was still under $60 a barrel. (Click here to see historical oil prices.)

"With gasoline prices averaging more than a penny-a-day
increase, prices of $4.00 a gallon are popping up across California and
other states can see their future in what is happening there," said
Dugan. "Yet President Bush said earlier this month he hadn’t even heard
about predictions of $4.00 gasoline, and Congress seems to be hiding
its head in the sand. Energy prices should also be atop the issues for
the presidential candidates, but the oil lobby’s clout suffocates even
that debate."

Either the White House or Congress should initiate hearings on
and investigations of unregulated energy trading markets, where
manipulation of large trades can drive up prices on all markets, said
OilWatchdog. A proposal to put some modest oversight and regulation on
U.S. trades in the unregulated markets passed the Senate last December
but it was folded into the federal farm bill, which is stuck in
unrelated disputes over the funding of farm subsidies.

"The electronic energy trading markets, including the
InterContinental Exchange, are exempt from all regulation because of
what’s called the ‘Enron Loophole’," said Dugan. "The same energy
bandits who nearly turned out the lights in California in 2000 pushed
aside federal regulation that could have spotted manipulation and
curbed this year’s disastrous price spike. Government is still asleep
at the wheel."

Oil refineries have also been cutting back production, which
spikes gasoline prices independent of oil prices. Families are running
up credit card debt just to buy gasoline and the economy is battered
from both sides by energy-caused inflation and recession, said FTCR.

The beneficiaries of this, aside from the speculators, are oil
companies and foreign oil producers reaping record profits, said FTCR.

FTCR and OilWatchdog call for:

– Swift action to close the Enron Loophole in commody trading
regulation. The measure that is stuck in the farm bill should be passed
again as a separate bill (S.2058 by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Carl
Levin) to help stop speculative pricing. (Click here to see more on Enron Loophole and farm bill amendment.)

– Senate approval of an alternative fuels bill funded by
withdrawing $1.8 billion a year in unjustified taxpayer subsidies to
oil companies. This measure, passed by the House last week, faces an
uncertain future in the Senate. A similar House measure was removed
from the federal energy bill by the Senate last year under pressure
from the oil lobby. (Click here to see text of HR 5351.)

Statements of intent by the presidential candidates. Today’s
presidential candidates must do more than make disapproving noises
about today’s energy crisis, said OilWatchdog. They must let voters
know how they plan to keep the oil lobby out of the White House and
stop this from happening again.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a non-profit, non-partisan organization.

– 30 – 

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