Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Profits for Oil, Gas & Coal Companies Operating in the U.S. and Canada

oil money

$331 billion

If this figure represented a country’s GDP, it would rank 36th in the world, between Denmark and Malaysia.

Instead, $331 billion is the profit made in 2013 by companies involved in extracting, transporting, refining, distributing and trading in fossil fuels in the United States and Canada. Despite these massive profits, the fossil fuel industry continues to receive tens of billions of dollars in subsidies every year at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. While these companies reap their benefits, communities across the country suffer the impacts of climate change, oil spills and water contamination from fracking, drilling and mining.

This includes many foreign companies – like Shell and BP – that, although they do not earn the majority of their profits in North America, are major players in American and Canadian oil, gas and coal industries.

Sector 2012 profits (million USD)
Coal mining  -$1,218
Oil & gas producers  $158,128
Oil & gas royalty trusts  $1,308
Oil & gas equipment & services  $48,511
Oil & gas refineries  $17,145
Midstream (natural gas)  $13,482
Midstream (other)  $5,641
Fuel sales & distribution  $2,115
Oil, gas & coal utilities  $39,469
Oil, gas & coal engineering & consulting  $3,888
Other oil, gas & coal  $42,752
Investment & trading  $309
Total  $331,349

Source: Bloomberg

However, profits from major Chinese companies, including PetroChina and China National Petroleum Corporation, were not included despite their significant interests in Canadian tar sands because to date their North American activities make up a tiny share of their total profits.

The utility companies included for this analysis are natural gas utilities, as well as electric utilities and power producers that generate or purchase a major share of their electricity from oil, gas and coal. Similarly, only investment and trading firms that deal primarily with fossil fuel companies have been counted.

Because private companies are not required to disclose their financial information, a large share of fossil fuel industry profits cannot be counted. Only 35 out of 60 private oil, gas and coal companies reported profits in 2013. Profits for these companies totaled more than $20 billion, a fraction of likely private fossil fuel company profits. Notably, Koch Industries (the second largest privately held company in the United States) profits are not included, though Forbes estimates the company’s annual revenue at $115 billion.

Many of these companies contribute millions of dollars in campaign finance to representatives and senators in the U.S. Congress, as well as to delegates and senators in State houses in key fossil fuel states around the country. This ensures that U.S. politicians represent the fossil fuel industry’s interests above those of the people that elected them. Fossil fuel industry lobbying expenditure and contributions to the U.S. Congress amounted to over $326 million in the 113th Congress (2013-14).

Comments (2)

  1. I think that all oil comp. would steal anything from there mother. I think that all oil comp. should pay 30% of there profits in taxes and not alowed to give to any politician a dam dime.

  2. Brian Hines says:

    The annual cost of climate change is now estimated to be $1.2 trillion.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/26/climate-change-damaging-global-economy

    So an industry making $271 billion in profits annually is costing society $1.2 trillion annually. How does that make sense?

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