By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. Clynt Ridgell today introduced a bill that would put a 20 percent cap on the profits that gas companies can make on Guam.
“The oil industry has made record-breaking profits in 2021 and the first quarter of 2022 while blaming the high cost of fuel on market conditions," Ridgell said in introducing Bill 320-36, titled “The Guahan Fuel Price Control Act of 2022."
"It’s this high cost of fuel that has afforded them their record-breaking profits,” he added.
The Center for American Progress reported that Shell’s first-quarter profit for 2022 is $9.1 billion or a 280 percent increase over the first quarter of 2021. Exxon Mobil saw $8.8 billion in profits which is 320 percent higher than their profits in the first quarter of 2021. Conoco Phillips made $4.3 billion in 2022 first-quarter profit which is a whopping 480 percent increase over their first-quarter profit in 2021.
“Mind you, these are profits we are talking about here. Profits, not total sales, not gross revenue but profits. Profits at the expense of the people. This is not capitalism, this is profiteering,” Ridgell said.
While the oil companies are making such high profits, the fuel prices on Guam have significantly increased, with the price of gasoline increasing from $5.04 per gallon in January 2022, to $6.48 per gallon as of June 15; an increase of $1.44 for the last six months in just calendar year 2022 alone.
“While they are making such massive profits, these oil and gasoline companies are now asking for tax breaks. This makes no sense. All it does is put more dollars in the pockets of Big Oil and less dollars in the pockets of the people,” said Ridgell.
The Guam Waterworks Authority recently entered into a multi-year fuel contract at $2.92 per gallon for regular unleaded fuel and $2.802 per gallon for diesel fuel oil No. 2. This negotiated price was based upon prices reported in Platt’s Asia-Pacific Market scan, for Singapore cargoes plus service fees.
“Why was GWA able to buy gasoline for its fleet at $2.92 a gallon? Why is gasoline so much cheaper on base? I think it must be because the oil and gasoline companies on Guam have massive profit margins. Massive profit margins that are breaking the backs of the people” Ridgell said.
In addition to the reports of massive profits, the prices of all automobile fuel products sold on Guam are identical among the three retailers, with any decreases or increases by one retailer matched by the other retailers within hours of such an action.
“Don’t raise the prices astronomically, make massive record-breaking profits and then blame some invisible market forces. It’s obvious that the massive profits are from the massive price increases,” Ridgell said.
Speaker Therese Terlaje has called the legislature into an emergency session to discuss four separate bills that all give tax breaks to Big Oil. Ridgell has written to the Speaker asking her to include “The Guahan Fuel Price Control Act of 2022” on the emergency session agenda.
“These Big Oil companies have us fighting one another at the legislature over who and how we are going to lower their taxes. Meanwhile, they are making record-breaking profits and laughing at us all the way to the bank,” Ridgell said.