Oil and gas profits triple under Joe Biden even as industry decries him

Profits for the biggest US oil and gas producers have almost tripled under President Joe Biden, even as the industry berates his administration’s “hostile” policies and warns that a second term would be “disastrous” for the sector.  The country’s top-10 listed operators by value, which will finish reporting their 2023 earnings this week, are on track to have amassed combined net income of $313bn in the first three years of the Biden administration, up from $112bn during the same period under Donald Trump.

The collective market capitalisation of the group — comprising ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, EOG, Pioneer Natural Resources, Occidental Petroleum, Hess, Devon Energy, Diamondback Energy and Coterra Energy — jumped 132 per cent over the period to more than $1.1tn, compared with a 12 per cent drop in Trump’s first three years.

Their 2023 profit figures are based on earnings reports except for Devon, due to release fourth-quarter results on Tuesday, whose latest quarterly profit figures are consensus estimates. US production has smashed records in recent years: in November, oil output hit an unprecedented 13.3mn barrels a day, while natural gas topped 105bn cubic feet a day for the first time. The nation overtook Qatar to become the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world last year.

The outperformance under Biden underlines the limited role of the White House in dictating the sector’s fortunes. The recent profit bonanza was driven in part by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which pushed up oil and gas prices. A strong rebound in global energy demand from the depths of the Covid-19 shock in 2020 also supported prices. West Texas Intermediate, the US crude benchmark, averaged about $80 a barrel during Biden’s first three years compared with $58/b in Trump’s.