The United States experienced glacial economic growth during the first quarter of 2014, but the big five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell—did not. Even though their profits were lower than in the first quarter of 2013, they still earned a combined $23 billion. They spent $7 billion, or nearly one-third, of this amount to repurchase their own stocks, lining the pockets of their boards of directors, their executives, and their largest shareholders. On top of this, they have $68 billion in cash reserves. Big Oil continues to prosper in a slowly recovering economy.
The companies benefited from domestic oil prices that averaged $5 per barrel higher in the first quarter of 2014 than in the first quarter of 2013. The higher price of oil offset the companies’ 5 percent production decline from the first quarter of 2014 compared to the first quarter of 2013.
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