OIL: More Profit, and Suspicion

Nothing has angered consumerists more than the huge profit increases that oil companies have enjoyed during the energy crisis. Last week the critics got more fuel for their attacks. Nine oil majors reported first-quarter rises in some cases even larger than those of late 1973. And federal energy officials charged that some unnamed oil companies have been indulging in illegal price gouging. Together, the profits and accusations seemed likely to reinforce public suspicion of the industry and increase the chances that Congress might translate those doubts into anti-oil legislation.

Oil executives have...

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