Sunday, November 6, 2011

Big-Oil Monopolies Engage in Price-Gouging

Last week Exxon-Mobil announced their 2011 third-quarter earnings, reporting $10.3 billion in profits, which is an increase of 41 percent from the same period last year. So far, Exxon has earned over $31 billion in profits in the first nine months of the year. It needs to be noted that Exxon-Mobil is also one of the big five big-oil companies that spends the most money muddying climate-change science - to add to their long list of egregious behaviour.

The people at Shell are also onto good times. Royal Dutch Shell announced their 2011 third-quarter earnings, announcing profits of $6.98 billion, like Exxon-Mobil more than double their profits posted a year ago, bringing their total profits for 2011 to over $21 billion.

In fact he big 5 oil companies have made $102.85 billion in profits since January 1. The massive increase in oil company profits year in and year has nothing to do with market forces but with good old fashioned monopolistic price-gouging. A report from the CFA (Consumer Federation of America) says:
The spike in oil prices has not been caused by natural market supply and demand. In fact, U.S. demand for oil has declined since 2005, while global demand has grown less than 4 percent. In addition, global oil reserves have been growing faster than consumption and the reserve-to-consumption ratio now stands at a higher level than it has been in a quarter of a century. Today, OPEC spare capacity is almost three times as great as it was in 2008.
The CFA also estimates that crude oil is about $30 a barrel higher than costs or historic trends justify, which generates needlessly high prices for petroleum products that drains about $200 billion out of the US economy.

The reason for this is speculators buy and sell as much oil as possible to make quick and easy profits. Speculators might trade a barrel of oil more than 20 times before it is ever used – the price going up with each speculative trade, and consumers picking up the final tab.

And let me close by reminding you that this kind of unregulated speculation has everything to do with what the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about::
Lobbyists and special interests (have) used their influence in Washington, D.C. to weaken regulations on oil trading. For example, in 2000, Enron convinced Congress to overhaul 60-year-old commodities rules that formerly provided checks and balances on oil speculation. This loophole allowed speculators to manipulate and potentially corner the market.
Wouldn't it be great if governments paid as much attention to consumer groups as to lobbyists from big-oil and Wall Street? Maybe if they could afford to ante up the same kinds of bribes they'd be listened to.