Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bunko Oilists

Get ready to be stung:
The world's best-known oil companies are pouring on the charm as they get ready this week to parade another round of fat profits before a public that is feeling suddenly poorer. The spotlight will shine on Exxon on Thursday and Chevron on Friday. Such advertising makes sense after a summer with oil at nearly $150 a barrel and a fall likely to bring renewed scrutiny of their investments and tax breaks.

But when oil companies spend their money, it's less about you and me than about their shareholders. In many respects, industry experts note, what's good for Big Oil's bottom line isn't necessarily good for Joe Q. Jetta.

"That's a game that oil companies have been playing for a while, but they've been pumping more money into it lately," said Sheldon Rampton, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy. "They're hoping to mitigate their bad reputation rather than become beloved."
In July the oil companies throttled back supply, and later we felt the effects of that in Nashville on top of a hurricane-interrupted transport and some consumer panic. I have to wonder whether recent lower gas prices are an attempt to take some of the edge of the frustration with trauma of low supplies in light of the sting of the next 48 hours news cycle regarding oil company profits.

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