Mobil misleads consumers

Oil is big business, that much is obvious. What might not be so obvious is just how big.

As The Associated Press reported Oct. 27 Exxon Mobil Corporation posted $100 billion in sales during the third quarter, marking the first time a U.S. company had ever posted such colossal earnings in one quarter.

To put that in perspective, $100 billion exceeds the gross domestic product of 173 nations, including New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. Ten billion dollars of that figure was net income, profit and also a U.S. record. These profits are a full 75 percent higher than those posted one year ago.

Things are going well over at Exxon Mobil; it’s no mystery as to why.

Gas prices in this country have been high, not for a few weeks but for many consecutive months and, while gas prices have abated somewhat in the last few weeks, they are still expensive. For the week ending with Halloween, the average price per gallon in the Midwest hovered around $2.32; in Chicago, prices averaged 22 cents more at $2.54 per gallon.

Refining capacity dwindled in the wake of destructive tropical weather. Gas prices shot up around the country and Exxon Mobil prepared to post the nation’s highest quarterly profit in history. Americans still bought fuel and Exxon Mobil laughed its way to the bank with dollar signs in its eyes the entire ride there, which was probably provided in a gas-guzzling limousine.

American consumers should be outraged. News story after news story tells us that reduced refining capacity in the Gulf will lead to higher gas prices. Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil suffers no losses. In fact, they post record profits.

The U.S. Department of Energy offers a breakdown of fuel costs on its Web site. The DOE stated that for September, about 25 percent of the cost of gasoline came from refining costs and about half from crude oil costs with the rest divided among taxes, distribution and marketing.

So let us get this straight. Exxon Mobil earned 75 percent more money than last year while losing refining capacity in the Gulf of Mexico, which normally only accounts for 25 percent of a gallon of gasoline’s cost. This is more confusing than the U.S. tax code.

Why is Exxon Mobil so profitable at a time when consumers are led to believe that rising oil prices are simply being passed onto them?

On Exxon’s Web site they state the company’s dedication to consumers. “Success depends on our ability to consistently satisfy ever-changing customer preferences. We pledge to be innovative and responsive, while offering high quality products and services at competitive prices.”

Competitive prices? Have these people ever bought gasoline, especially recently? Scarcely are prices different or competitive at the local level.

Perhaps it’s gouging or perhaps just good business sense, but an oil company posting $10 billion in net profits contradicts much of what the American consumer has been led to believe about the oil industry in recent months.

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