October 22, 2008

ConocoPhillips Doubles Its Profit for 2008 – Harbinger for Bigger Oil Companies

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ConocoPhillips is the smallest of the Big Five Oil companies, but it made profits in the third quarter that match what giant Exxon made as recently as 2004. Its $5.2 billion quarterly profit and $14.8 billion profits so far in 2008 vividly show the damage that oil and fuel prices did this year to consumers and the U.S. economy, said the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog.

"These gargantuan profit leaps should warn Congress not to be distracted by the banking crisis from regulation of energy markets," said Judy Dugan, research director of Consumer Watchdog. "Conoco's doubling of profit over the first three quarters of 2008 came straight out of consumers' pockets and mostly onto their credit cards. Energy costs were stressing a damaged economy months before banks started imploding, and the energy debt pileup will suppress economic recovery."

Conoco is the smallest of the Big Five oil companies, behind Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell and Chevron. Yet its $5.2 billion record third quarter profit was as big as Exxon's for the third quarter of 2004. (Get full company-to-company profit comparisons since 2000 on OilWatchdog.com's "Oil Profits Monster" Excel chart at http://www.oilwatchdog.org/articles/?storyId=10827)

Conoco doesn't usually rate the attention given to profit reports from Exxon, but it's a harbinger of the pig-at-the-trough profits that will certainly be reported by its bigger brothers in the next two weeks, said Consumer Watchdog. Though overall profits dipped slightly from the 2nd quarter as oil prices slid, refining profits were up.

Conoco's third-quarter profits on refining rose $185 million over the previous quarter, even though Conoco reported refining less fuel and other products -- an indicator that as oil profits fall, the major companies will push to gain more profit from refining.

"The price of gasoline has dropped only half as much as the price of crude oil since July," said Dugan. "That means more profit for refiners and in some cases for retailers, and less benefit for consumers. The pattern of slower reductions in gasoline prices is likely to continue through the rest of the year, to the companies' profit and consumers' detriment."

Consumer Watchdog

CONTACT: Judy Dugan of Consumer Watchdog, +1-310-392-0522, ext. 305 or+1-213-280-0175 (cell)

Web Site: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/