The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Gas Prices Skyrocket ... Profits Skyrocket

Feb 21, 2011

In California, gasoline prices leaped by more than 10 cents a gallon in just seven days, and are now 53 cents higher than a year ago.

The oil companies blame the price increases on the mass upsurges in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries – even though gas prices have been rising for over a year, well before the social upsurges broke out.

And these prices are rising despite the fact that demand has been falling recently, according to surveys by Triple A.

No – it’s not Egypt and it’s not “supply and demand.” Prices are rising for one simple reason: the oil companies are trying to push their profits sky high – and then higher still.

Last month, ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil company, announced that profits already were 60% higher than a year before. “That's a profit level not seen since the third quarter of 2008 ...” marveled the Wall Street Journal. And prices are hitting a record high for mid-winter.

At Chevron, the second biggest U.S. oil company, profits for 2010 were almost twice as high as the year before. “Financially and operationally, 2010 was an outstanding year,” boasted Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson.

The third largest U.S. oil company, ConocoPhillips, announced on February 11 that it was literally bursting with money. So, it boosted its quarterly dividend by 20% and decided to spend 15 billion dollars buying back its own stock. “Shareholders always like it when cash is given back,” one analyst told Bloomberg News.

That’s capitalism pure and simple: no matter how much profit they already made, they want still more.