Saturday, October 29, 2005

Making money at your expense

The other day I commented on the record third-quarter profit ExxonMobil had posted. On the heels of that, Royal Dutch Shell announced a 68% profit (or $9.03 billion) and Chevron came in at around $4 billion.

Then, visiting again, I read the following:
A sudden interruption in oil supplies sent prices and profits skyrocketing, prompting Exxon's chief executive to call a news conference right after his company announced that it had chalked up record earnings.

'I am not embarrassed,' he said. 'This is no windfall.'

That was January 1974, a few months after Arab oil producers cut back on supplies and imposed their short-lived embargo on exports to the United States. Oil executives, including J. K. Jamieson, Exxon's chief executive at the time, were put on the defensive, forced to justify their soaring profits while the nation was facing its first energy crisis.

Three decades later, their successors are again facing contentions that oil companies are making too much money and have failed to expand production.

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