NEW YORK, Feb 1, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - ExxonMobil reported record annual profits of $55.7 billion in 2022 on Tuesday, reflecting higher commodity prices amid recovering demand and the impacts of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
In the fourth quarter, profits rose 43.7 percent to $12.8 billion, thanks to higher oil and natural gas prices and better refining margins compared with the year-ago period.
Revenues from October through December rose 12.3 percent to $95.4 billion.
The results reflect slightly higher production of oil and natural gas in 2022 that chief executive Darren Woods said reflected ExxonMobil's investments prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"While our results clearly benefited from a favorable market, the counter-cyclical investments we made before and during the pandemic provided the energy and products people needed as economies began recovering and supplies became tight," Woods said.
"We leaned in when others leaned out."
In 2020, ExxonMobil was kicked out of the Dow index while its stock languished during the coronavirus crisis, which dented petroleum demand. At the time, the company was criticized for taking on more debt than rivals.
The huge profits by oil companies have sparked pushback from governments. In December, ExxonMobil sued to challenge a new windfall tax policy in Europe.
ExxonMobil, along with rival Chevron, has also sparred with US President Joe Biden, who has bashed the energy giants for buying back shares instead of putting extra funds into new oil and gas investments.
On Tuesday Biden tweeted that the only thing "stopping Big Oil from increasing production is their decision to pay shareholders billions instead of reinvesting profits."
"I'm doing my part to lower prices, it's time Big Oil did theirs," he wrote.
The president's tweet came after a White House spokesperson told the BBC that Exxon's record profits were "outrageous," especially after "the American people were forced to pay such high prices at the pump" in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In 2022, ExxonMobil put $29.8 billion into shareholder distributions, evenly split between dividends and share repurchases.
Shares fell 1.5 percent to $111.90 in pre-market trading, but rose again throughout the day to close at $116.01.