FINANCIAL TIMES: Sky-high profits see oil chiefs called to Capitol Hill: “Lee Raymond, Exxon Mobil's chairman and chief executive, James Mulva of ConocoPhillips, and Shell USA president John Hofmeister have agreed to testify before two Senate committees next Wednesday, a Senate spokesperson confirmed.”: Wednesday 2 November 2005
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Holly Yeager in Washington
Published: November 2 2005
Top executives at some of the biggest oil companies in the US have been summoned to Washington to answer increasingly hostile complaints from lawmakers that the energy industry is enjoying record profits at the expense of American consumers.
Lee Raymond, Exxon Mobil's chairman and chief executive, James Mulva of ConocoPhillips, and Shell USA president John Hofmeister have agreed to testify before two Senate committees next Wednesday, a Senate spokesperson confirmed.
They are expected to face sharp questioning about rising energy prices and to explain whether their companies will use record third-quarter profits to invest in additional resources that could lower prices in future.
The decision to call Mr Raymond and other executives to Washington underscores how the high cost of petrol and home heating oil has become a top concern for lawmakers in recent weeks.
The public hearings are likely to provide more drama than substance: lawmakers appear to be seizing on the energy issue because - unlike the war in Iraq or recent Washington scandals - it offers an easy opportunity to show they are acting on voters' concerns.
Some Republican senators will face a tough balancing act, criticising oil groups while maintaining their traditional pro-business and anti-regulatory stance.
"Oil companies have failed to tell us and show us what they are doing with these profits that justify them. Normally, business doesn't have to [justify profits] . . but when prices remain so high and do so much damage . . then it seems that they owe us an in depth analysis," said Pete Domenici, Republican chairman of the Senate energy committee, which will join with the commerce committee for the hearings.
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