Executives from several U.S. oil companies once again found
themselves before Congress on Tuesday, March 14, to defend their billions of
dollars in record profits.
Reuters reported that executives from Exxon Mobil
Corp., Chevron Corp., ConcocoPhillips, Valero Energy Corp., and the U.S. arms
of BP Amoco PLC and the Royal Dutch-Shell Group of Companies testified under
oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The executives were called on to explain the combined
profits of more than $100 billion earned by the companies in 2005.
Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson told the
committee that acquisitions and mergers have not boosted prices at the pump, Reuters reported. Instead, the executives insisted that increased costs at the pump are
because of the rising cost of oil.
Some senators questioned that rational.
“Every time there is a merger prices have gone up. Is that
just a coincidence?” asked Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT.
And Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said, “We should seriously
explore divestiture …”
The oil executives told the committee that opening
restricted federal lands and offshore waters to more exploration and drilling
would help bring those prices back down.
The hearing was the second time the executives had appeared
before Congress. They were also called in fall 2005 to explain skyrocketing
prices in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.