Oil: We Gave at the Pump

Oil companies tout their restraint, but many ring up big profits

Are oil companies ripping off their customers? As the gyrating price of crude sends quakes through the world economy, consumers and politicians have hurled angry accusations that Big Oil is using the crisis to maximize profits. Those suspicions only grew stronger last week, when several leading oil companies reported that their earnings rose sharply in the July-September quarter. At Phillips Petroleum, profits more than doubled, to $178 million. Unocal's earnings were up 53%, to $121 million. The Justice Department and the Senate are investigating oil pricing. And some legislators, notably Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, are calling for a new...

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