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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Higher prices at the pump give oil companies record profits

The Miami Herald reported Thursday:

Exxon Mobil (XOM), the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported record third-quarter profits and may be headed for all-time marks for annual revenue and earnings, thanks to higher prices for oil and natural gas.

The company said it earned $5.68 billion, or 88 cents per share, in the third quarter, compared with $3.65 billion, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier. The company said it would have earned $6.23 billion in the recent quarter after excluding a $550 million charge to cover the cost of a class-action lawsuit by gas station dealers.

The Independent reported Wednesday:

BP forecast yesterday that oil prices would continue to exceed $30 a barrel for the next few years as it reported a 43 per cent jump in quarterly net profits to $3.9bn (£2.2bn), or £1m an hour.

The underlying profit was $3.5bn, before exceptional items, for the third quarter of the year, the highest underlying quarterly profit the company has ever produced. For the first nine months of the year the $12.6bn profit is another record for the oil giant, up 26 per cent on the period last year.

The company is on course to make nearly $17bn for the full year. Oil prices have hit new records, on a weekly or even daily basis, for much of this year, to exceed $50 a barrel.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"With oil above $51 a barrel, the oil giants have a problem lots of companies only dream about: What to do with all the cash?

The seven largest Western oil companies are expected to generate $71.3 billion in free cash this year - and that is after funding $78.1 billion in spending for new oil and natural-gas projects, according to John S. Herold Inc., an oil consulting firm.

To put that in perspective, the new 'seven sisters,' a term for the largest Western oil companies, could band together and buy eBay Inc. at today's share prices and still have some $6 billion in pocket change. By itself, Exxon Mobil Corp., which will generate an estimated $22.5 billion in cash this year, could snap up Apple Computer Inc.

Expatica reports:

"Oil and fuel giant Royal Dutch/Shell unveiled a 70 percent jump in third quarter profits Thursday and announced plans to merge into one company that will be run from the Netherlands.

Shell reported net profit for the third quarter of this year on a current cost of supply basis at EUR 4.4 billion compared with EUR 2.59 billion in the same period last year."

Reuters reported Friday:

"Sinopec Corp. Asia's largest refiner, said on Friday its third-quarter net profit soared 62 percent to a record high thanks to soaring global oil prices and booming Chinese demand for chemicals and gasoline.

The results at Beijing-controlled Sinopec topped market forecasts, and the company said it was upbeat on its outlook given continued strong demand in energy-hungry China."

The Olympian reports:

"At the same time, the industry's extraordinary gains are putting a dent in the finances of families and businesses.

U.S. consumers are expected to pay $40 billion more this year just to heat their homes and fuel their cars and trucks.

As for corporate America, perhaps no other sector has been hit as hard as the airline industry.

The seven largest U.S. carriers reported more than $1.3 billion in combined net losses for the third quarter as soaring jet fuel bills undermined carriers' best efforts to reduce expenses. "

The Independent again:

"The superheated US election campaign enters its final weekend with Democrats pounding George Bush on the missing 380 tons of explosives in Iraq, and over a potentially embarrassing FBI inquiry into the controversial oil services group Halliburton ú not to mention the sudden intervention last night of Osama bin Laden...

Mr Bush began the day with a speech that for once did not mention Mr Kerry by name, as his strategists aim to give a more forward-looking, upbeat flavour to his message after weeks of pouring scorn and insult on the challenger.

But, even before the emergence of the video message by the al-Qa'ida leader, events are putting the Bush campaign on the back foot. It emerged yesterday that the FBI is investigating possible violations of military procurement rules by the Pentagon, over the award of contracts to repair Iraqi oil fields to Halliburton, formerly headed by the Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Mr Kerry's running mate John Edwards instantly seized on the news: "You cannot stand with Halliburton, big oil companies and the Saudi royal family, and still stand up for the American people," he told a cheering crowd in Davenport, Iowa--a swing state Mr Kerry is fighting to hold in the face of a strong Bush challenge...

The President's campaign has been caught doctoring a TV ad showing Mr Bush addressing a military audience. Simultaneously, aides were scrambling to explain away remarks by the former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani suggesting that the military, not the President, was responsible for guarding the explosives."


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