Another Record Profit For Exxon

Who Would Have Thunk It?

Exxon Mobil made a profit of $14.83bn (£8.97bn) between July and September, smashing its own record for the highest quarterly profit by a US company.

In the second quarter this year, when oil prices were still rising, the oil giant made a profit of $11.68bn.

The new record represents a 58% rise on profits compared with the same period last year.

Profit for the first nine months of this year was $37.4bn, up 29% on the same period last year.

The $1.6bn sale of a natural gas transportation business in Germany helped boost profits.

Rex W Tillerson, chief executive of the company, said: “Exxon Mobil’s strong results demonstrate the continued success of our disciplined business approach.”

Stormy conditions

The profits could have been even higher, had it not been for falling oil prices and extreme weather.

Hurricanes Gustav and Ike affected the company’s Gulf Coast operations and resulted in an increase of $50m in pre-tax costs. Exxon estimates that the impact of both hurricanes will reduce fourth-quarter earnings by about $500m.

Massive profits have allowed Exxon to invest heavily in exploration. In the third quarter, capital and exploration project spending increased to $6.9bn, up 26% on the same period last year.

They have also allowed Exxon to distribute significant cash to shareholders – it paid out $2.1bn in dividends over the quarter.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/10/30 13:20:39 GMT

Another Record Profit for Exxon

Oil giant Exxon Mobil made a profit of $11.68bn between April and June, breaking its own record for the highest quarterly profit by a US company.

The 14% rise in profit was thanks to the surge in crude oil prices, which were almost double the price they were in the same period a year earlier.

But profits disappointed investors, who sent Exxon’s share price down 3%.

Profit growth was dented by declines in production, reduced demand for petrol and lower margins on refining.

Sales of petrol and related products fell from the year before because of lower demand, the firm said.

Production disruption

Crude production declined 8% in the quarter, partly due to disruption in Venezuela and Nigeria.

“They are spending $25bn a year on exploration4, and they are not even breaking even now in terms of production growth,” said Gene Pisasale of PNC Capital Advisors.

During the quarter, Exxon also took a charge of $290m related to a penalty imposed on the firm for its role in Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster.

Last month, the US Supreme Court ruled that the $2.5bn (£1.25bn) fine initially imposed would be cut to $500m.

Exxon Mobil won the right to appeal against the damages bill for the 1989 Alaskan oil spill after arguing the initial penalty was excessive.

Judge Rules White House Aides Can Be Subpoenaed

August 1, 2008

WASHINGTON — President Bush’s top advisers must honor subpoenas issued by Congress, a federal judge ruled on Thursday in a case that involves the firings of several United States attorneys but has much wider constitutional implications for all three branches of government.

“The executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled Congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” Judge John D. Bates ruled in United States District Court here.

Unless overturned on appeal, a former White House counsel, Harriet E. Miers, and the current White House chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, would be required to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee, which has been investigating the controversial dismissal of the federal prosecutors in 2006.

While the ruling is the first in which a court has agreed to enforce a Congressional subpoena against the White House, Judge Bates called his 93-page decision “very limited” and emphasized that he could see the possibility of the dispute being resolved through political negotiations. The White House is almost certain to appeal the ruling.

It was the latest setback for the Bush administration, which maintains that current and former White House aides are immune from congressional subpoena. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to recommend that Karl Rove, a former top political adviser to President Bush, be cited for contempt for ignoring a subpoena and not appearing at a hearing on political interference by the White House at the Justice Department.

Although Judge Bates did not specifically say so, his ruling, if sustained on appeal, might apply as well to Mr. Rove and his refusal to testify.

The House has already voted to hold Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten in contempt for refusing to testify or to provide documents about the dismissals of the United States attorneys, which critics of the administration have suggested were driven by an improper mix of politics and decisions about who should, or should not, be prosecuted.

Judge Bates, who was appointed to the bench by President Bush in 2001, said Ms. Miers cannot simply ignore a subpoena to appear but must state her refusal in person. Moreover, he ruled, both she and Mr. Bolten must provide all non-privileged documents related to the dismissals.

Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten, citing legal advice from the White House, have refused for months to comply with Congressional subpoenas. The White House has repeatedly invoked executive privilege, the doctrine that allows the advice that a president gets from his close advisers to remain confidential.

In essence, Judges Bates held that whatever immunity from Congressional subpoenas that executive branch officials might enjoy, it is not “absolute.” And in any event, he said, it is up to the courts, not the executive branch, to determine the scope of its immunity in particular cases.

“We are reviewing the decision,” Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, said. Before the decision was handed down, several lawyers said it would almost surely be appealed, no matter which way it turned, because of its importance.

Democrats in Congress issued statements in which they were quick to claim victory in the struggle with the administration over the dismissals of the federal prosecutors and other occurences in the Justice Department, and that they looked forward to hearing from the appropriate White House officials.

“I have long pointed out that this administration’s claims of executive privilege and immunity, which White House officials have used to justify refusing to even show up when served with congressional subpoenas, are wrong,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Leahy’s House counterpart in the House had a similar reaction.

“Today’s landmark ruling is a ringing reaffirmation of the fundamental principle of checks and balances and the basic American idea that no person is above the law,” said Representative John D. Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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