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Shell and Exxon Earn $160,000 a Minute, Yet Still Receive $2.4 Billion Tax Break

The top two corporations on the Fortune 500 Global ranking, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, announced their 2012 second-quarter earnings last week, bringing the total profits for three Big Oil companies to $44 billion for 2012 or $250 million every day this year. Exxon profited by $16 billion this quarter, bringing its earnings for 2012 to $25 billion.

The New York Times wrote that Exxon and Shell’s earnings “disappoint,” because energy prices unexpectedly dropped for consumers this summer. Put their profits in the appropriate context, however, and Exxon and Shell still made a combined $160,000 per minute last quarter, even though the top five oil companies benefit from $2.4 billion federal tax breaks every year.

Below we look at what Exxon and Shell spends its earnings on:


– Exxon spent 42 percent — or $10.7 billion — of its 2012 profits buying back its stock, which enriches executives and largest shareholders.
– Exxon has spent $17 million lobbying for the past 18 months, making it the top spender in the oil and gas industry. It has spent more than $52 million lobbying for the first three years of the Obama presidency, 50 percent more than in the Bush administration.
– Exxon is sitting on $18 billion in cash reserves.
– Exxon send federal candidates $1.3 million in campaign contributions so far this campaign cycle, sending 91 percent to Republicans.
– Exxon paid just 13 percent in federal taxes last year, lower than the average American family. Right after Mitt Romney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the top recipient of Exxon federal contributions.
– Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson received $24.7 million total compensation.

Royal Dutch Shell:

– Shell will start drilling in the Arctic this summer, but its oil spill response plan is still behind schedule. It’s off to an inauspicious start in the Arctic, recently losing control of an Arctic drilling rig.
– Shell has spent nearly $22 million for the past 18 months, making it the second-biggest spender of the oil and gas industry.
– Shell has more than $17.3 billion in cash reserves.
– Shell bought back 15 percent of its second-quarter profits, or $900 million.
– Shell CEO Peter Voser’s compensation more than doubled in 2011 to $15.3 million. His salary increased (in euros) by 113 percent.
– In its annual report, Shell noted that the number of oil spills increased from 195 in 2010 to 207 during 2011.

While these companies already benefit from billions in tax breaks, Mitt Romney has offered the industry even more. A Center for American Progress Action analysis finds that Romney’s tax plan could lower five companies’ annual tax bill by another $2.3 billion, virtually doubling what they already receive in tax breaks.

Chevron and BP are the last two of the Big Oil companies to announce profits.

By. Rebecca Leber

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Leave a comment
  • Mel Tisdale on July 31 2012 said:
    The biggest threat to humankind, with the possible exception of nuclear Armageddon, is the change that is happening to the climate, and it is clear that one of the presidential candidates, Mitt Romney, has not bothered to study the subject. Or if he has, does not care about the lives that are going to be lost due to it. Otherwise he would not be considering anything other than increasing the taxes on the fossil fuel industry instead of increasing the tax breaks they get.

    I suppose Romney thinks his wealth will buy him and his wive(s) some sanctuary somewhere. It had better have armed guards at the entrance because you can bet your bottom dollar on the fact that when the public catches on to how the fossil fuel industry and its puppet politicians (look at the lobbying figures and campaign contributions) have duped them, they are going to seek revenge. Another fact you can bet on is that the Republican party, with its rite of passage not to recognise climate change, will as a result soon be unelectable, and the sooner the better.
  • David L. Doud on July 31 2012 said:
    Like most people who don’t understand business, below are the real numbers which mean more the negative approach as witnessed above;

    Exxon Mobil Corporation
    2011 Taxes Paid - $31,051,000,000
    2010 Taxes Paid - $21,561,000,000
    2009 Taxes Paid - $15,119,000,000
    Current Employment: 82,100
    Net Income to Gross Income in 2011 is a mere 8%
    5 Year Average Dividend Yield: 2.10% which is the calculation against the price of the stock. Since dividends are after tax distributions and the dividends are distributed from the Net Income.

    Don’t forget it takes brains and money to make a change, however do not be so quick to point your finger when you are not giving out all the facts. -DLD
  • Derek Curry on March 24 2013 said:

    You yourself have just given another negative approach on top of the one you are critiquing. Those numbers are fine, but you are not including the other billions in dollars that they can "claim" they have paid. Excise tax is pretty much a tax that is paid for by the consumer. So some of the numbers are then skewed to show Exxon giving more than they actually do. The numbers up top are true as well. They did nearly spend half of their profits buying back stocks, which helps who again?
    I'm not saying that you are right or this article is right, but you both try to skew public opinion in your favor.

    Thankfully I'm a moderate so I can get through both of your crap w/o political precedence in mind. Have a good day.

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