Sources: Compiled from the quarterly results of each company, publicly available on the investor pages of each company’s websites.

$135 billion

Not the 2010 GDP of Hungary or Kuwait, no it’s slightly more than either of those. In fact, if it was a figure for the 2010 GDP of a nation, it would rank 54th, between Kuwait and Ukraine.

It is in fact the combined 2011 profits of the five largest international oil companies.  These are the same companies that receive much of the over $10 billion in subsidies and tax breaks that the federal government lavishes upon the oil and gas sector every year.

All in the name of maintaining our addiction to oil at precisely the time when we should be reducing oil use to prevent catastrophic climate change.

We need to get the money out of politics and get serious about standing up to Big Oil.

Watch this space…


  • I just hope and wish that something like this would go all the way ya know? Make it just that lil ooooomph it needs to really take fire and follow through. A grass roots movement to over-haul the Gov’t from the top down.Has anyone ever asked the question: “How would one begin?”.

  • Maybe it’s time to bring back the draft. Only this time, instead of young men’s bodies and lives, it’s the wealth of the 1% our nation needs. It’s a national security issue. A patriotic duty. If the 1% don’t like it, we can ship them off to Afghanistan and promise not to photograph their coffins when they get back. And keep the money anyway.

  • The government is only subsidizing these oil companies with so much money to keep oil prices low. Although they might not seem that low, they would be considerably higher had they not. There are millions of people in the world consuming oil at an extremely fast rate, $10 billion is necessary to keep up with the intake.

  • Please provide a source as to where you found the profits of the big oil companies. Would just help with the reliability factor.

  • Josh, thanks for pointing that out. My bad. The sources are the quarterly results from each of the companies. I have compiled the figures from documents from each of the companies’ websites. You won’t find all the figures in one place.

  • Not one cent was given to any oil company as a subsidy. They were give tax break but still pay taxes on income. For example, Exxon paid over $8 billion in one quarter alone.

  • Their profits are announced to the public via tv and the news papers (not sure if it is done quarterly or yearly). The only way to drop oil prices is to drop consumption.

  • Jack, According to the World Trade Organization, a subsidy is a transfer of funds or a potential transfer of funds from a government or public body through a grant, loan, equity infusion, or loan guarantee; a government fiscal incentive such as a tax credit; a government-provided good or service other than general infrastructure; or a government payment to a funding mechanism or private body to carry out one or more of the functions illustrated above.

    In essence, any government action that reduces the cost to the consumer of a good or service, or reduces the cost of production is a subsidy. Preferential tax codes reduce costs for producers.

  • Yuki, Artificially lowering prices interferes with the laws of supply and demand which is the basis of capitalism. If the prices were higher, people would consume less and that’s the goal. Moreover, subsidies enrich and empower an elite few while providing a disincentive to invest in clean energy alternatives, not to mention oil keeps us dependent on foreign countries, and that raises a whole host of other issues.

    Josh, yes a grass-roots overhaul is needed, but I would argue that to be effective, it must start from the bottom, not the top. We the people still hold the power but fail to exercise it because we’re too busy fighting against each other in the name of partisan politics. We need to unite against common threats like this and let our voices be heard as one.

    Lorne, thank you for this information. If you create an initiative, I’ll sign it. In fact, President Obama proposed to end oil subsidies in his State of the Union Speech, so you would merely be holding him to his word.

  • JThis is ignorant…everyone follows all the tax laws to their best advantage….we normally don’t call the mortgage interest deduction a subsidy, for example, so that talk is not helpful to anyone..and if there were a legal subsidY for an oil company, whose fault would that be other than the meddling government that created the laws? let’s at least blame the right people…we should be very careful before attacking and destroying another essential industry…(auto, banks, healthcare so far..what’s next?)

    Oh, and the actual biggest oil companies in the world are the sovereign ones, government owned oil in Russia, Iran, Saudi, Venezuela, Mexico, Nigera…all lovely places….pick on them if you think it will do any good…but let’s not copy them…

    Deserve an answer to this question? First the oil companies are being SUCCESSFUL! hurrah for them. The profits go to all the shareholders who have trusted them with their money…profit like this is good things for us all.

    As to the sorry state of schools, let me know if you need help figuring out that one…that mess is nothing to do with the success of any oil company, as this silly poster suggests….remember kids, work hard/study hard so you can be a part of a successful organization when you grow up…if you are lucky and smart maybe you can work for one of the oil companies…

  • Jim Y:

    Very elegantly put… but we ain’t buying it. Maybe it is just a catchy poster but there’s no denying that we are in an economic crisis where large corporations who lobby their way out of paying their fair share of taxes blame the subsidy on the needy and the working backbone of this country. That is blatant greed and hipocrisy which only an ambiguous entity such as a corporation could get away with.

  • According to what I have read in USA Today and other sources consumption in the United States is down and it is speculators that are the reason for this current spike in gasoline prices. In fact they have been the single most reason for pricing upticks for awhile now.

    I find it interesting that every time we are told that our economy is experiencing an uptick gas prices spike. This is detrimental to any economic recovery as any hope of anyone having any disposable income that could be spent is immediately taken by the oil companies. It is also causes all item prices to be raised as it costs more to have product delivered. It is a vicious cycle to be sure.

    I do not like the fact that people think it is ok to have high gas prices to force people into a certain behavior. The current prices are based on greed and greed alone and is allowed by a gov that is in the back pocket of the oil industry.

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