Oxfam names and shames on the tax practices of Big Oil

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The advocacy group Oxfam penned a shareholder resolution asking companies such as Chevron to put an end to secretive tax practices. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI. | License Photo

Nov. 21 (UPI) — Investors in the U.S. supermajors — Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil — are at risk of reputational damage because those companies are less-than forthcoming on their tax practices, British advocacy group Oxfam said Monday.

Oxfam said it penned shareholder resolutions seeking reports on the tax practices of those energy companies.

“Exxon, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips’s threadbare tax disclosures leave investors, watchdog groups, and the general public in the dark about the companies’ secretive tax practices,” Daniel Mulé, the policy lead on extractive industries and tax at Oxfam America, said.

Oxfam is asking the companies to publish tax transparency reports that align with the standards outlined in the Global Reporting Initiative, which the advocacy group said was the most-used framework of its kind.

If the companies comply, the reports would offer a more detailed, country-by-country, analysis of revenues, profits and losses that would be essential for a true understanding of any tax avoidance or profit-shifting from one jurisdiction to the next.

Oxfam added that if these companies offered their country-by-country reports, any potential headaches over regulatory changes could be avoided and show whether taxes are paid according to each country’s policies.

“Oil and gas companies frequently point to their contributions to the tax base in producer countries as a justification for their continued operations, particularly in poor countries, but secretive tax practices make it impossible to verify whether the companies actually contribute to shared prosperity,” added Mulé.

Big energy companies in general came under pressure this year after reporting bloated profits at a time when energy prices are contributing to high levels of consumer inflation. Chevron turned in $11.2 billion in net profits during the third quarter, lower sequentially but nearly double the returns from third quarter 2021. Exxon Mobil reported its fourth straight quarter of strong returns, with its $19.7 billion in profits topping the second quarter by nearly $2 billion.

Oxfam earlier this year took aim at profits in another way by accusing the world’s richest people of having an overwhelming impact on the environment.

“Emissions from billionaire lifestyles — due to their frequent use of private jets and yachts — are thousands of times the average person, which is already completely unacceptable,” Nafkote Dabi, the head of climate change programs at Oxfam, said. “But if we look at emissions from their investments, then their carbon emissions are over a million times higher.”

The report found that the investments of just 125 billionaires emit 393 million tons of carbon dioxide each year — an amount that matches that of all of France.

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