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- U.S. gas prices, which were already on the rise following pandemic-related changes in supply and demand, hit a new price per gallon high March 8 that hasn’t been seen since July 2008.
- The price increase was partly attributed to the invasion of Ukraine as Western countries imposed economic sanctions on Russia for its aggression.
- Several major oil companies — Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell — reported record-breaking profits before the invasion.
Gas prices in the United States have been on the rise since Russia invaded Ukraine, but a Facebook post says these high prices come as major oil companies experience record profits.
The Facebook post was shared on March 7 and is an image of a tweet made by Dan Price, the CEO of a Seattle-based credit card processing company that made headlines in 2015 when it raised minimum salaries for employees to $70,000.
"Gas prices are rising at their fastest pace ever, and have topped $4 for the first time since 2008," Price’s March 6 tweet said. "America gets 1% of its oil from Russia, while Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell profits are at their highest level in over 7 years."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The post is right that the U.S. is not heavily dependent on Russia for its oil, but its numbers are slightly understated. And while it was correct in its assertion that oil companies have recorded record profits, it ignored that those gains followed pandemic-era losses.
Gas prices had steadily been on the rise since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Much of that has been due to slow economic recovery following profoundly disruptive pandemic-era supply and demand changes. But gas prices quickly shot up when war broke out between the countries on Feb. 24. Global crude oil prices jumped to more than $100 a barrel, hitting their highest levels since 2008.
The American Automobile Association announced March 7, a day after Price’s tweet, that the higher oil prices caused the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. to reach $4.06 — a price jump of 45 cents compared to the previous week and 62 cents from the previous month. The next day, it went to $4.17 per gallon.
Not accounting for inflation, it’s the highest the national average gas price since July 2008, AAA reported.
Economic sanctions against Russia by the U.S., European Union and Japan have disrupted Russia’s financial system including its oil industry, as several international oil companies announced their intention to divest their stakes in Russian energy.
And President Joe Biden on March 8 announced a ban on Russian oil imports, which he said is expected to push gas prices up further.
The U.S. receives imported oil from more than 80 countries and saw 5.88 million barrels of crude oil per day flow into the country for 2020, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.
Though Russia is among the top five sources of imported oil for the U.S., data from the EIA shows the bulk of imported oil comes from Canada, and only a small fraction is from Russia.
The U.S. imported around 672,000 barrels of petroleum products, including crude oil, a day from Russia in 2021, the EIA reported. That accounted for around 8% of overall oil imports received by the U.S., with about 3% being crude oil — not the 1% as stated in the social media post.
Oil companies did announce record breaking profits earlier this year.
Exxon Mobil made $23 billion in profit for 2021. But that came after suffering $22.4 billion in losses the previous year because of the pandemic-fueled economic downturn. The New York Times reported the company's profit was the highest it had been since 2014.
Chevron also experienced its most profitable year since 2014, with the company reporting in January that it made $15.6 billion in revenue for 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal. That followed a loss of $5.5 billion in 2020.
BP reported it made $12.85 billion in 2021, with $4.1 billion being made in the fourth financial quarter. Reuters reported the quarterly profit was the largest the company has had since 2013. That followed a $5.7 billion loss in 2020, its first in a decade.
Reuters also reported that Shell made significant profits in 2021, earning $19.29 billion for the year, up from $4.85 billion in 2020. In the final financial quarter of 2021, the company earned $6.4 billion, Shell’s highest quarterly profit since 2014.
A social media post about rising U.S. gas prices claimed "America gets 1% of its oil from Russia, while Exxon, Chevron, BP and Shell profits are at their highest level in over 7 years."
It’s true that U.S. dependence on Russian oil imports has been small. About 8% of all petroleum products imported into the U.S. have come from Russia — and 3%, not 1%, are crude oil.
And while oil companies have reported record profits, these records followed billions of dollars of pandemic-era losses from 2020. Some of the record breaking amounts were of quarterly profits and not annual profits.
With those caveats, we rate this claim Mostly True.
Facebook post, March 7, 2022
Archive of Facebook post
Twitter, Dan Price post, March 6, 2022
CNBC, "How the Ukraine-Russia conflict may push up prices for Americans," March 3, 2022
American Automobile Association, "Russia-Ukraine Conflict Continues To Cause Pain At The Pump," March 7, 2022
The Washington Post, "U.S. gas prices are rising at fastest pace ever as Russia intensifies invasion of Ukraine, AAA says," March 4, 2022
White House, Remarks by President Biden Announcing U.S. Ban on Imports of Russian Oil, Liquefied Natural Gas, and Coal, March 8, 2022
U.S. Energy Information Administration, "How much petroleum does the United States import and export," accessed March 9, 2022.
U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Imports from Russia of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products, accessed March 9, 2022
Reuters, "Biden bans Russia oil imports to U.S., warns U.S. gasoline prices will rise further," March 8, 2022
The New York Times, "Exxon Mobil reports a $8.9 billion fourth-quarter profit as oil prices soar," Feb. 1, 2022
The Wall Street Journal, "Chevron Rakes in $15.6 Billion in Annual Profits as Oil Prices Climb," Jan. 28, 2022
Reuters, "Energy prices lift BP profits to 8-year high," Feb. 8, 2022
Reuters, "Shell ends 2021 on high note, hikes dividend and boosts buybacks," Feb. 3, 2022
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