The world’s top two oil companies on Friday announced record-breaking annual profits, riding on last-year’s crude oil boom, even as their profits for the October-December quarter fell.
US’s Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, reported a profit of $45.2 billion for 2008, breaking its own record for a US company. Its fourth-quarter earnings fell 33 per cent from a year ago.
The previous record for annual profit was $40.6 billion, which it had set in 2007.
The number two, Anglo-Dutch company Shell, slumped to its first quarterly loss in 10 years on the back of the ongoing bear-phase in crude oil, but the group was still able to report the biggest annual profit in UK corporate history, of $31.4 billion.
Interestingly, this performance has led to calls for a windfall tax in the UK.
The trade union Unite expressed anger that the petrol supplier was raking in record profits while motorists and others suffered. “Shell is still feasting while the rest of us face famine,” said joint general secretary Derek Simpson. “A compelling case still remains for a windfall tax on the greedy energy companies. Working families are struggling in the face of the recession; the redistribution of windfall profits would help support Britain through these difficult times.”