ExxonMobil, Shell lead Big Oil’s eye-watering $221 billion profit binge that Biden has slammed as ‘outrageous’

Oil refinery Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg
  • Oil majors posted record profits for 2022, benefiting from the energy-market turmoil triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • US President Joe Biden thinks it’s ‘outrageous’, saying the firms invested too little of such profits to boost output.
  • Exxon Mobil, Shell and TotalEnergies raked in the most profits among Western companies.

 

The biggest oil companies of the West saw their combined profit swell to a whopping $221 billion last year, with the latest earning reports capturing many firsts in the businesses’ histories.

“Have you noticed Big Oil just reported its profits? Record profits,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. “Last year, they made $200 billion in the midst of a global energy crisis. I think it’s outrageous,” he said, referring to the top five firms.

Biden criticized the oil majors for using their record profits “to buy back their own stock, rewarding their CEOs and shareholders” instead of investing enough of the gains to cap gas prices by ramping up production to meet soaring demand.

Global energy prices surged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, hitting multi-year highs in March, and then retreating over the subsequent quarters to reach pre-war levels in recent weeks. Last year’s jump in energy prices, combined with major cost cuts implemented during the pandemic, helped propel the oil giants’ profits to unprecedented peaks.

Here’s a list of the 2022 full-year profits of the seven American and European names among the world’s 10 biggest oil companies, along with some analyst comments:

  1. Exxon Mobil led the pack with $55.7 billion in profit for 2022, setting a record for the company and the West’s petroleum industry as a whole. The oil giant’s head financial officer Kathryn Mike told Reuters that the significantly high earnings “came really from a combination of strong markets, strong throughput, strong production, and really good cost control.”
  2. Shell raked in $39.9 billion, more than doubling what it booked a year ago and slightly topping analyst expectations. It is the UK giant’s biggest annual profit ever, thanks to a strong fourth-quarter performance by its natural-gas business.
  3. TotalEnergies recorded $36.2 billion, a two-fold increase from a year before. CEO Patrick Pouyanne said Wednesday that sanctions against Russia are creating a “grey market for oil” that is no longer unified. Unlike some of its rivals, the French oil major has maintained some of its investments in Russia.
  4. Chevron posted $35.5 billion, more than doubling the $15.6 billion it made in 2021.
  5. British Petroleum booked a record of $27.7 billion, more than twice the amount from a year before. BP is shifting away from its renewables goals to capitalize even more on the profitability of its investments in oil and gas.
  6. Marathon Petroleum Corp. recorded $14.5 billion, nearly 5 billion more than the U.S. refiner booked last year. Some analysts say the company’s buybacks are creating more value for investors by a “wide margin” compared to its bigger rivals like Exxon and Chevron who also have sizable programs.
  7. Valero Energy Corp. posted $11.5 billion, beating the $930 million it made a year before.
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Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company by profit, will announce its full year 2022 earnings in March. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec, and PetroChina are also on the top 10 list.

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