October 3, 2022
President Joe Biden singled out oil company ExxonMobil for not spending more of its profits on new production, a criticism he and Democrats have leveled repeatedly at the broader industry across weeks of record-breaking gasoline prices.

President Joe Biden singled out oil company ExxonMobil for not spending more of its profits on new production, a criticism he and Democrats have leveled repeatedly at the broader industry across weeks of record-breaking gasoline prices.

Biden, speaking to reporters after an inflation-focused speech at the Port of Los Angeles, said the Texas-based oil giant “made more money than God this year” and beckoned it to invest more in raising output as oil trades above $120 per barrel.

BIDEN’S SOLAR ENERGY EMERGENCY EXPLAINED

“Exxon made more money than God this year, and by the way, nothing’s changed,” Biden said. Exxon posted first-quarter profits of $5.5 billion.

“They’re not drilling. Why aren’t they drilling? Because they make more money not producing more oil,” Biden also said, stressing the number of drilling permits that the Bureau of Land Management has approved for energy companies that hold federal oil and gas leases.

Onshore leaseholders had an aggregate of 9,081 permits to drill as of April, the most recent month for which information is available. The number excludes permits for offshore drilling.

Democrats have frequently pointed to the number of approved permit applications or data on unused federal acreage to imply that energy companies are unduly sitting on leases and permits, although oil and gas interests respond that neither a lease nor a permit guarantee that oil can profitably be produced in a given area.

Exxon has announced plans to grow production this year, including in the Texas-New Mexico Permian Basin, where it envisions a 25% increase in output.

While a number of energy companies have similarly announced plans to increase production, others have been more conservative and stayed a course of returning profits to shareholders, paying down debts, and buying back stocks instead following the financial toll on the industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those strategies have drawn ire from the Biden administration and its allies in Congress.

Diamondback Energy, a Texas-based independent, said the company is “committed to maintaining our current production levels” in its first-quarter earnings announcement and emphasized volatility in the oil market.

Another independent, Devon Energy, said in its earnings assessment for the first quarter that it is “committed to a disciplined maintenance capital program” and that it has not amended its plan to sustain production of between 570,000 to 600,000 barrels per day.

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Oil companies had a lucrative first quarter. Chevron turned a $6.26 billion profit, while Diamondback and Devon netted $779 million and $1 billion, respectively.

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