US President Biden has criticised oil giant Exxon Mobil for not contributing to the nation's economy by pumping more oil to flatten gas prices.
President Joe Biden slammed ExxonMobil for not producing more oil, as soaring gas prices deplete Americans' wallets and the US leader's popularity ahead of midterm elections.
"Exxon made more money than God this year," he said on Friday, advocating increasing taxes on oil companies.
ExxonMobil reported massive profits in the first three months of the year despite lower oil and natural gas volumes, as crude prices rose after Russia's assault on Ukraine.
Oil companies "have 9,000 permits to drill. They're not drilling. Why aren't they drilling? Because they make more money not producing more oil," Biden said in comments at the Port of Los Angeles hours after the government released a devastating inflation report reflecting soaring energy prices.
And with the higher profits, "they're buying back their own stock, which should be taxed quite frankly. Buying back their own stock and making no new investments."
After a dreadful 2020 amid Covid-19 lockdowns that devastated petroleum demand, oil companies returned to profitability in 2021 and have continued to see earnings skyrocket this year.
ExxonMobil's first-quarter profits more than doubled to $5.5 billion, and revenues rose 52.4 percent to $87.7 billion.
The petroleum giant also increased spending on share buybacks by $20 billion, and while it has planned to increase capital spending in 2022, Exxon ruled out additional investment.
Skyrocketing gas prices
Biden, whose popularity has plummeted in the face of the highest inflation in four decades and sky-high gas prices.
Government data released Friday showed the consumer price index jumped 8.6 percent compared to May 2021, up from 8.3 percent in the 12 months ending in April and topping what most economists thought was the peak in March.
Energy has soared 34.6 percent over the past year, and fuel oil costs more than doubled, jumping 106.7 percent, the largest increase in the history of CPI, which dates to 1935.
Oil prices have mostly lingered above $100 a barrel after spiking to around $130 a barrel in early March shortly after the Russian attacks on Ukraine. American drivers are facing new record gas prices daily, with the national average hitting $4.99 a gallon on Friday, according to AAA.