Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The high price of gasoline is displayed at a Los Angeles gas station on November 24, 2021

The high price of gasoline is displayed at a Los Angeles gas station on November 24, 2021. (Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

As Pump Prices Soared, Big Oil CEOs Enjoyed Windfall Pay Days

Bonuses alone for executives at 28 of the top oil and gas companies combined topped $31 million combined.

Andrea Germanos

Research out Monday reveals that CEOs from 28 of the top oil and gas companies enjoyed a combined $394 million in total compensation in 2021, including through "eye-popping" bonuses that together topped $31 million.

The analysis from Accountable.US, first reported by The Guardian, comes as inflation-hit consumers see gas prices soaring while fossil fuel companies stand accused of making "gobs of money" off the global energy crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The executives made, on average, $1.6 million more per person in 2021 than in 2020, Accountable.US found.

Among the CEOs singled out in the analysis are Exxon's Darren Woods and Marathon Oil's Lee Tillman, whose 2021 compensation included bonuses of $3.1 million and $3.5 million, respectively.

Thirteen CEOs, the report also found, got a combined total of $1,895,092 in raises from 2020 to 2021. That goup includes Marathon Petroleum CEO Michael Hennigan, who saw a $114,583 hike in his base salary, as well as Occidental Petroleum's Vicki Hollub, whose salary surged by $383,034.

"Americans will not soon forget that when they were struggling to fill their tanks, oil and gas companies made billions in record profits and decided to give that money to wealthy industry executives and shareholders rather than help consumers by stabilizing gas prices," Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig said in a statement.

Herrig added, "It's time for Big Oil to stop lying about the Biden administration's energy policies and quit using inflation and the crisis in Ukraine to cash in and line their pockets at our expense."

The findings followed an analysis released last month and conducted by advocacy groups Oil Change International, Greenpeace USA, and Global Witness that estimated that U.S. oil and gas corporations could collect up to $126 billion in windfall profits this year thanks to continued high global gas prices. ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Occidental Petroleum, and ExxonMobil stand to be the biggest winners of the windfall, the groups found.

The new research dropped as the national average for regular gas hit $4.123—about four cents higher than it was a week ago. One year ago, by contrast, the national average was $2.886.

"As long as the price of oil stays elevated, the price at the pump will struggle to fall," said Andrew Gross, a AAA spokesperson, in a statement.

"Consumers may be catching a little break from March's record-high prices," he said, "but don't expect any dramatic drops."

Last month, Democrats introduced bicameral legislation to get some relief for the high prices into Americans' pockets. Called the Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax, the measure was led by lawmakers including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

According to Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, "The oil and gas industry got the world into this mess by lobbying and lying to keep us hooked on fossil fuels. Now they're using the war in Ukraine to distract us from the fact that they are ripping off hardworking Americans with high gas prices as they reap record earnings."

"It's time we stop allowing Big Oil to use its record profits, earned on the backs of hardworking American families, to reward wealthy shareholders and CEOs," said Wiles, "and instead make them pay a fair share to lower the cost for consumers."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Congress Must Do More NOW,' Sanders Says After Mass Shooting at July 4th Parade

"Today's terrible shooting in Highland Park is the latest reminder of our nation's deadly gun violence epidemic," the Vermont senator said. "Grocery stores. Schools. Churches. Fourth of July parades."

Jake Johnson ·

'Bloodbath': At Least 6 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Mass Shooting at Illinois July 4th Parade

"What freedom do we have if we fear being gunned down at a parade?" asked one progressive politician horrified by the reported carnage.

Brett Wilkins ·

On This July 4th, Abortion Rights Movement Says 'We're Not in the Mood for Fireworks'

"If we don’t have the ability to make decisions about if, when, and how to grow our families—we don't have freedom."

Brett Wilkins ·

Deadly Glacier Collapse in Italy 'Linked Directly to Climate Change'

At least seven people were killed when a glacier slid down a mountainside near a popular climbing route in the Alps on Sunday.

Julia Conley ·

'Organized Whitewash': US Claims Israeli Military's Murder of Journalist Not Intentional

"The odds that those responsible for the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh will be held to account are all but nonexistent," said the human rights group B'Tselem in response to findings of U.S. State Department.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo