By Nandita Bose and Jarrett Renshaw
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House launched a new attack on U.S. oil companies on Friday, accusing them of using profits to pay shareholders instead of increasing supply, after Chevron Corp said its annual profit had doubled for 2022.
Chevron posted a record $36.5 billion profit for 2022, more than double the previous year’s profit, kicking off what analysts expect to be a bumper earnings season for global energy providers.
Earlier this week, Chevron announced it would triple its spending on stock buybacks to $75 billion over five years based on current forecasts. Other oil companies are expected to follow suit.
«Companies clearly have everything they need – record profits and thousands of permits approved – to ramp up production,» White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said in a statement.
«The only thing that bothers them is their own decision to continue pumping windfall profits into the pockets of executives and shareholders instead of using them to drive supply.»
Under former President Donald Trump, Congress passed major retroactive tax breaks for Big Oil as demand for fuel plummeted during COVID shutdowns. After oil prices spiked following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European governments imposed windfall taxes on their oil industries, but US lawmakers are unlikely to do the same.
Chevron and Exxon Mobil – the nation’s two largest oil producers – are on track to post record 2022 annual profits of nearly $100 billion combined, analysts say.
Chevron did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Exxon declined to comment.
Hasan’s comments mark the latest round of attacks from the White House lambasting oil companies for funneling a windfall of profits to investors. President Joe Biden’s administration tried repeatedly last year unsuccessfully to convince oil companies to increase production as gas prices rose, and Biden eventually decided to tap into the US strategic reserve. oil (SPR).
Last week, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Biden would veto a bill from Republicans in the US House of Representatives that limits the president’s power to exploit oil reserves. if passed by Congress.
Overall, U.S. oil producers are increasing their budgets for new energy projects this year, but the spending will be dwarfed by the amounts paid out to shareholders.
Last year, the energy industry was one of the leading sectors in the S&P 500 index after lagging the market for years.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons and David Gregorio)