Exxon Mobil did it again. Their annual revenue for 2008 was an astonishing $45,220,000,000. That's 45.2 BILLION dollars. They took a hit the fourth quarter and only took in 7.8 billion. Down from their previous quarterly record of $14.83 billion.
Lest you think that Exxon is the only oil company raking in the bucks, let's review Chevron, BP and Shell. Chevron took in $4.895 billion in the fourth quarter and $23.931 billion for the year. BP recorded $10.029 billion in the 3rd quarter. Shell posted $4.785 billion for the fourth quarter and $31.4 billion for the year. Of course, Shell is actually a Dutch company and BP is British.
So those two American companies earned a combined total of $69.151 billion in 2008.
Now unless you're thinking I'm against profit making, let me assure you I am not. These companies are in business to make money. I know that. However, when you think about how much their product affects so much of our lives, it's hard to reconcile these gross profits. Much was made of the Big 3 auto makers and how devastating their failures would be to the national economy. I beg to differ. These guys are bigger. Their failures would be far more devastating to the economy. Not that they're in any apparent danger of doing so.
Speaking of which, Ford posted 4th quarter loss of $5.875 billion and an annual loss of $14.571 billion. Exxon Mobil could give them $5.9 billion and still have $1.9 billion in profit left over for the quarter. Indeed they could pay off Ford's annual loss and have $30.6 billion left over! GM hasn't reported their 4th quarter earnings, but they lost $4.2 billion in the 3rd quarter. Chevron could give them that much and have 695 million dollars left over for the quarter. As a private company, Chrysler doesn't post its profits online so I have no way of knowing how much they lost or made. But since they've gotten a big chunk of government money, I kinda think that should make them a public company, don't you?
At any rate, I think the solution to the auto manufactures woes lies with the oil companies. They should have been required to offer up some of their profits to support Ford, GM and Chrylser. It makes sense. Without these American cars, we'd all have to be driving the more fuel efficient foreign cars and then they'd be selling less gas.
Of course, they'd still be making huge profits from our obsessive use of all things plastic.
ExxonMobil's website says "Polyethylene (PE) is the largest volume polymer consumed in the world. It is a versatile polymer that offers high performance relative to other polymers and alternative materials such as glass, metal or paper. ExxonMobil Chemical is a leading global PE producer and supplier. We have the broadest PE product portfolio." What is PE? Go look at the milk jug in your refrigerator. Somewhere on the bottom of that jug is a symbol.
This is high density polyethylene and is just one of the many forms of PE. Your plastic grocery bags are another. It's literally everywhere. ExxonMobil also makes polypropylene. Those of you trying to stay warm in Michigan and points north? Your thermal underwear is likely made of the stuff. Hell, in Australia it's in the money! Plastic polymers are in things that we don't even think of as being plastic. If we removed all the plastic from our homes, we'd have no insulation, no speakers, no TVs, no refrigerators, fewer clothes and shoes and no computer from which to blog on. The next time you have to go to get blood drawn think about the medical applications of plastics that have saved countless lives and made the sterile environment necessary for surgery and other medical applications readily available. Your car is filled with all sorts of polymers. And who makes those polymers? Companies like Exxon.
When we think of how much the petroleum industry affects our lives, we usually think of the pollution caused by automobiles and how hard the price of gas hits our wallets. Global oil reserves and oil production are really an unknown. No one, except possibly the Saudi government, knows how much oil is beneath their sands. Other countries think they've already reached their peak production. The US reached ours in 1971. The possibility that we have already reached the global peak oil production is a sobering idea and one that will most likely not be fully known until well after the fact. But the inarguable truth is that there is only so much oil on the planet. Sooner or later we will run out. When we do, if we have not utilized alternatives, it could be devastating. Some even predict the downfall of industrial civilization. Wars could be fought over strategic oil reserves. We're already fighting one war over oil. As the world's oil reserves dwindle, it's entirely possible that wars like this will spread.
Strange how this started our as a rant about ExxonMobil's record annual profit and turned into something else but we need to realize that our addiction to oil fuels the profits of companies like Exxon while it damages our environment and alters the very way we live.
It's past time we, as a nation and indeed as a planet, fully supported the creation of alternatives to oil.