It won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s filled the station wagon recently, but ExxonMobil announced today that its 2007 net earnings totaled $40.6 billion—the single largest annual profit, not only in the company’s history, but in the country’s. (That $40.6 billion is not income, mind you, but profits after all expenses and taxes have been paid out.)...What a deal! And if you're wondering about how the worrisome "dependence on foreign oil" is going, note that the DOE has the US increasing imports by about 7.5% throughout the Bush years.
These profits are made possible, of course, with the help of federal subsidies, which total anywhere between $15 billion and $35 billion a year, according to independent estimates. (In 2005, President Bush—himself a former oilman—signed into law an energy bill which, by itself, granted more than $14 billion in tax breaks and incentives to the industry.)
Total subsidies are difficult to pin down because they take so many different forms. For example, Washington props up the industry by issuing tax-free or low interest construction bonds, assuming the legal risk for development projects, or lending money to international institutions like the World Bank, which in turn subsidize international oil production.
And for the peak oil freaks out there, check out DC Velocity's "End of Cheap Oil." [GM apparently gets the peak oil idea].