A Blogger Teleconference With Ken Cohen, Vice President of Public Affairs at ExxonMobil
Today, I was in on a blogger teleconference with Ken Cohen, Vice President of Public Affairs at ExxonMobil. I actually had to move on at the one hour mark, but Cohen was still going, which is kind of unusual. But maybe that’s because Cohen has probably never been on the line with a group of people who were so positive and supportive of Exxon outside of his own shareholders. The Human Events guys were even giving him advice on how to better get Exxon’s side of things out to the general public. It was viva la capitalism all the way, baby!
Here are a few factoids (These are from my notes and they’re not quotations) from Ken Cohen that you might find interesting:
— Why are gas prices so high? Unprecedented economic growth in Asia and instability in nations like Venezuela have a lot to do with it.
— Why do costs change so fast at convenience stores? It’s because they base their prices on the next shipment of oil that they’re scheduled to get.
— There are 17 fuel blends and they reduce flexibility and make it difficult to cover shortages caused by equipment problems. Had Bush not waived those requirements after Hurricane Katrina, there could have been shortages.
— With all the refinery expansion going on, it’s possible we could actually go from having a shortage to having an excess of supply in a few years.
— He has no idea how long it will be until we get cheap gas again.
— ExxonMobil is currently working on pumping out heavy oil and shale and we do have abundant shale oil resources in the US. But, it doesn’t sound like the technology is ready yet.
— ExxonMobil was a big investor in solar power in the 70’s and 80’s, but they got out of it because they didn’t think it could be anything more than a niche alternative. That’s still the case and unless there is a big leap forward in solar technology, it’s never going to be an important part of meeting our energy needs.
— Ken Cohen has been with ExxonMobil for 30 years. There has been some sort of price gouging allegation, somewhere, every year he’s been with the company, but ExxonMobil has never price gouged. The reason that there are allegations now is because prices are high and it’s an election year. ExxonMobil will testify if Congress asks, but they will find there has been no price gouging.
— Last year, ExxonMobil grossed $371 billion dollars worldwide and paid out almost a $100 billion dollars in taxes across the world. Their profits in the US during that time period were $11.3 billion and they paid out $14.4 billion in taxes. In the 1st quarter of 2006, ExxonMobil earned 2.3 billion profit in the US and paid out $3.7 in US taxes. On the fortune 500, ExxonMobil ranks number 116 in profit margin.
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