ExxonMobil said Feb. 1 its 2006 profit rose to a new record of $39.5 billion in a year that saw all-time highs in crude oil prices. The profit was up 9% from a year earlier, when the energy company's then-record profit sparked a political row over oil industry earnings coming at the expense of consumers. The company said the 2006 results were "driven by strong results in every business segment."
But the world's biggest oil and gas company said its fourth-quarter profit was down 4% from a year before at $10.2 billion. Revenues for the fourth quarter were down 9% from a year earlier at $90 billion, and for all of 2006 were up 2% to $377 billion.
Oil industry profits have prompted a backlash from some in Congress and calls for a windfall profits tax. Political pressure could intensify now that Congress is in Democratic hands. But the industry argues that its profit margins are no larger than other sectors, and that it invests heavily to find more crude and gas. ExxonMobil said its 2006 capital spending was $19.9 billion, an increase of 12% over 2005.
Still, critics say the industry has reaped a bonanza while consumers are pinched by high prices for gasoline, heating oil and natural gas. Crude prices hit record highs in mid-2006 of more than $78 a barrel, but have declined to the mid $50 range in recent weeks.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007