Exxon CEO and Chairman Darren Woods pushed back against the White House on Tuesday on CNBC amid criticism of oil companies increasing profits.
The White House issued a statement Friday criticizing oil companies for allegedly using profits to pay shareholders rather than increasing output. The announcement came after Chevron announced their profits nearly doubled in 2022. Chevron also said it would triple its spending on share repurchases, according to Reuters.
“Companies clearly have everything they need – record profits and thousands of approved permits – to increase production,” White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan said, according to Reuters. “The only thing getting in the way is their own decision to keep plowing windfall profits into the pockets of executives and shareholders instead of using them to boost supply.”
CNBC’s Becky Quick noted to Woods that Exxon has “very strong numbers” but that the stock was trading down as of Tuesday morning, going on to note the oil industry has faced backlash over profits. (RELATED: ExxonMobile Joins Other Big Oil Companies In Withdrawing From Russia)
“Is it tougher to try and respond to critics when one critic is the occupant of the White House, who has been harsh on oil companies overall?” Quick asked. “There was a harsh statement last week from the White House when Chevron said it was raising its dividend and going with the buybacks, they want to make sure oil companies are investing, and they have been very harsh. Is that a harder line to walk these days when you have a president and a White House that feels that was about things?”
“My first comment would be the White House needs to get its facts straight,” Woods said. “We have invested more than any of our peers when times were tough we were out there investing at a level that exceeded anybody else in our industry. We have done the hard work, we have made the investments, we had a keen focus on making sure we had the production there and products available for society when it was needed. When the call came we answered it, we spent that money, taking criticism at the time, and grew our production and are basically providing more products today because of those investments. I think we are doing what the White House, in essence, is asking us to do.”
Woods has sparred with the White House before after President Joe Biden warned oil industry executives that he would take action against them if they don’t boost refining output. ExxonMobile told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement the White House should be promoting investment through “clear and consistent policy” and streamline the regulatory approval process for fossil fuel infrastructure and holding regular oil and gas lease sales.
Woods also sounded the alarm against Biden’s plan to cut back on fuel exports, which Woods said could reduce global supplies and hike gas prices.