Oil continues to trade above $100 per barrel with the NYMEX CRUDE FUTURE closing at $101.84 on the last day of February 2008 and the US House of Representative passes legislation to raise $18 billion in new taxes for Big Oil to foster development of alternative energies. While President Bush plans to veto the legislation and Republicans claim the legislation unfairly impacts the oil industry, let’s look at the numbers. The legislation calls $18 billion tax over the next ten years so the impact amounts to $1.8 per year. The oil demand is approximately 20.6 million barrels per day according the to latest data from the Energy Information Administration. With oil at $100 per barrel the US will spend about $2 billion a day on oil and that equates to over $750 billion a year. In comparison to the total amount of oil we use, the tax is about 2/10th of one percent.
Figure 1 US Oil Supply and Demand
Well maybe that’s not a fare comparison. The bill, H.R. 6, the CLEAN Energy Act. would roll back two tax breaks for the five largest U.S. oil companies and offer tax credits for energy efficient homes and gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
According to the CNN article, the money to be collected over the 10-year period would provide tax breaks for solar, wind and other alternative energies and for energy conservation. The legislation was approved 236-182, and is expected to cost the five largest oil companies an average of $1.8 billion a year over that period, according to an analysis by the House Ways and Means Committee. So in other words this bill just repeals tax breaks given to Big Oil to become more competitive in the global market.
Figure 2 Oil Prices and World Rig Count
So what is the $1.8 in tax impact on Big Oil? Let’s just look at the impact this would have if just Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) had to endure the tax only. Exxon Mobil generated $404 billion revenues in 2007, which means if Exxon had to face this tax only, it would be less than ½ of 1% of revenues. Considering that some states impose a 6% sales tax on consumers, a tax impact of 0.2% on the largest oil companies seems rather innocuous.
If the world has to depend upon OPEC oil production, questions do arise over the expansion of oil production and OPEC’s willingness to supply oil despite oil over $100 per barrel. As figure 3 illustrates production among OPEC nations is faltering. Could this be a prelude to Peak Oil?
Figure 3 OPEC Oil Production
The bottom line is that without incentives and further research on alternative energies, the world continues to be held hostage to oil and hydrocarbon fuels which are directly linked to rising CO2 levels and climate change.