November 29, 2022

As gas prices continue to soar across the nation, oil producer Exxon Mobil reported $5.4 billion in profit during the first quarter — doubling its profits compared to the same quarter last year.

Exxon also took a noteworthy loss as company officials abandoned Russian operations due to the war, writing down about $3.4 billion. CEO Darren Woods said in a statement Friday that Exxon’s earnings increased modestly. Revenue at the Texas company was $90.5 billion, which far exceeded the $59.1 in revenue during the same quarter a year ago.

Exxon’s growth this quarter is in part due to oil prices rising soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, sending European countries which rely heavily on Russia for energy and others scrambling to find alternative sources for fuel. A barrel of the U.S. benchmark crude rose from $76 to nearly $130 per barrel before ending the quarter at $100, and drivers were filling up with increasingly expensive gasoline.

For the most part, oil prices are in lockstep with gas prices. As oil rises, so do prices at the pump — although sometimes it takes longer for stations to lower gas prices when oil prices drop.

The average national gas price was $4.16 a gallon as of Friday, up from $2.88 a year ago, according to AAA. Some states, including lCalifornia and Nevada, are paying more than $5 a gallon; at the low end, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi drivers are paying around $3.85 a gallon. 

The price of diesel gas reached a record high of $5.16 per gallon, GasBuddy said Friday. High gas prices get most of the attention, but “diesel, which broadly is the fuel that moves the economy, has quietly surpassed its recent record high,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a statement.

Exxon’s profit comes at a time when the company is also being investigated for its role in causing a plastic pollution crisis. 

California’s attorney general on Thursday subpoenaed ExxonMobil as part of what he called a first-of-its-kind broader investigation into the petroleum industry. Attorney General Rob Bonta said the industry for decades has encouraged the development and use of petroleum-based plastic products while seeking to minimize public understanding that their widespread use harms the environment and public health.

Bonta said Exxon — which is moving its headquarters from Irving, Texas to Houston next year — was subpoenaed as a major source of global plastics pollution and for its alleged prominent role in public deception regarding plastics, allegations that the company called meritless.

Exxon’s production fell to 3.7 million barrels per day of oil-equivalent, down from 4% from the fourth quarter of 2021 due to weather-related unscheduled downtime, planned maintenance and divestments, the company said.

Exxon reported its largest ever loss in 2020, when the company lost $22.4 billion due to pandemic woes. 

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