Exxon CEO's Meetings with Obama 'Constructive'

Rex W. Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil
(Click to Enlarge)

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), Mar. 6, 2009

Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said Thursday that meetings with President Barack Obama and other government officials to discuss energy policy had been "cordial" and "constructive."

"I have had a meeting with the president, I have had meetings with members of his cabinet and they have been fairly constructive meetings," said Tillerson in an interview with Fox Business Network that will air Thursday at 6 p.m. EST.

In the conversations with top government officials, Tillerson had "the opportunity to try and illuminate on some issues that maybe they had not thought about or at least had a view that might have been somewhat in error," he said.

"I didn't get the sense that they were uninterested at all in what I had to say," he added.

The head of the largest U.S. oil company by market value was answering questions about whether some of the policy changes proposed by the Obama administration -- aimed at nudging the U.S. toward renewable energy and seeking more revenue from the oil industry -- sounded like threats to his industry. Obama's 2010 budget proposal, presented to Congress last week, seeks to raise at least $31.5 billion over 10 years from the oil sector.

Tillerson said that he understands the government is looking for ways to raise revenue, but added that the oil industry already pays "a lot of taxes."

"We have to stay fairly unemotional about it," Tillerson said. "We certainly don't take it personal and try to be a part of the constructive solution that we know is the desire of the American people and the desire of the administration."

Asked about the possibility that Exxon Mobil or any other oil company might request a governmental bailout due to lower oil prices, he said it won't happen.

"We've never gone back to the government when we've been through those [similar] conditions before," Tillerson said. "To my recollection, no one in our industry went back to the government and said you've got to do something to save [oil industry] jobs."

During the big oil price drop of the early 1980s, the industry lost more than 400,000 jobs.

The executive also said oil prices could remain low if the economy remains weak or worsens.  

Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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Dan Pearson | Mar. 13, 2009
I am a retired Exxon Geoscientist, but regardless of my affiliation with Exxon, you have to admire Rex Tillerson taking the high-road in his discussions with the President and his Cabinet. In the future we will see crude oil prices whip-saw back to high levels due to world demand vs supply in response to the amount of projects that have been back-logged or abandoned due to the present low prices crude oil commands.

Thomas Ackel | Mar. 13, 2009
I think it would be a lot better for America in general to listen and be very interested in what Rex has to say because we will need oil, and that means replacing reserves by drilling and exploration, for the next 20 years at a minimum.

The Technologies that BO and his cabinet are pushing for do not exist in a way to take over from Oil, Natural Gas and Coal.

James W. Rogers | Mar. 13, 2009
The oil patch has been my life for 52 years, and it been good to me, but we did have our ups and down like most any job. Have to save for them days when there is no work. We never had a bail out, we just put our head down and look other places to work; like everybody else I had to go overseas to work in order to feed my family, but the last 8 years have been real good for the oilfield, but it cost twice as much to drill these wells, and there a lots of tax dollars going down the drain and people need to go back to work.

Craig Mooney | Mar. 13, 2009
The administration is reactive not proactive. Crisis will be upon us soon enough. It's time for the industry to recognize the opportunity to retain experienced individuals who have maintained a work ethic. The two feet and a heartbeat stage is over. As we slowly ramp up, rehire those who have knowledge, experience, and who have repeatedly demonstrated they want to do the job right the first time. There is a remnant who still take pride in doing the right thing.

KPM | Mar. 13, 2009
Tillerson seems somewhat arrogant in his response. We do need our industry; go to Capitol Hill and explain how we really can cut oil imports. CLEAN BURNING NATURAL GAS BABY! I guess they are going to put solar panels and huge props on our cars and trucks. Do you think the environmentalists have thought about what we are going to do with millions of expired, toxic batteries for the electric cars down the road?

John M. Kocol | Mar. 11, 2009
My plan to launch an American coal2oil industry by calling for an Obama-Tillerson coal2oil meeting has created worldwide interest! Call the White House at 202-456-1111, and ExxonMobil's corporate headquarters at 972-444-1000, and mention your support for an Obama-Tillerson coal2oil meeting!

John M. Kocol, coal2oil.org Founder & CEO

Roy H. | Mar. 9, 2009
Rigs are shutting down domestically because of the lack of action by this administration. If access was allowed to federal lands by this administration and to coastal and offshore regions by the state and federal governments, drilling would commence, state & federal treasuries would profit and it would help matters considerably.

D Mac | Mar. 9, 2009
I am proud that my husband has made the oil patch his career!! I am also very proud that the oil industry never asks for gov. welfare!! This is not the first bust that me and my husband have gone through. One saves and prepares for the future. Its business, and we are not in the business of going out of business!

Warren Oxner | Mar. 9, 2009
The oil companies work all the service hands when times are good and make record profits. Then when tough times arrive, the O.C.s shut almost everything down, got to look after the CEOs and share holders. So now a large portion of the experience leaves the oil patch to find something else and do whatever. When it gets busy again, the O.C.s are the first ones to complain about the lack of experience and high rate of incidents in the service end of the oil patch.

Mr. H | Mar. 9, 2009
"We've never gone back to the government when we've been through those [similar] conditions before," Tillerson said. "To my recollection, no one in our industry went back to the government and said you've got to do something to save [oil industry] jobs."

Simply not true. This industry has had a lobbying presence in Washington for decades. We fought for decontrol of prices, against the WPT, and are now coordinating efforts to confront a host of proposals that will decimate oil and gas companies.

Ikedinachi Ekenna | Mar. 9, 2009
Well, I think the Exxon Mobil CEO was quite cordial in the conversation, just as you rightly said, and then US administration should reflect back on benefits of oil and gas companies to the government and to the masses as well. Only then would the US government harness the constructive ideology endowed in the energy sector ... "believe me its a very daring sector that requires daring minds".

JDR | Mar. 9, 2009
There has to be a balance to this issue. I was under the belief that the oil companies are already paying for renewable R&D and also that renewables will by no means replace fossil fuels in the next 30 years. Why not encourage drilling domestically AND give a credit to those who contribute to the development of new energies?

Unfortunately it is the smaller independents who get squeezed out, and there are many thousands of jobs either hanging by a thread or already gone because of the pressure on the oil industry. And, as pointed out in the article, we as an industry don't go to the government for bailouts, and most of the people working are independent contractors who will NOT get unemployment, NOT get government subsidized health insurance or any of the other items that our good tax dollars pay for others to receive now that Uncle Sam is acting like a rich uncle. Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

Art Vandeley | Mar. 9, 2009
"I didn't get the sense that they were uninterested at all in what I had to say," he added. That is because they are smoooooth talking politicians. The current administration could care less about oil industry jobs.

M Barrilleaux | Mar. 9, 2009
Impossible to have enough batteries to store solar and wind energy. Where will we dispose of all the BILLIONS of batteries from the electric cars? How does all of this make us green? Seems like lights and mirrors. "Same old wine,just a different bottle."

Eric Smith | Mar. 7, 2009
All the CEOs of the major oil companies need to go to Washington, and show how much the oil industry plays a important part of the U.S. economy. Let them know how far we have come. WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO DRILLING.

Mike | Mar. 7, 2009
We can certainly reduce our dependence on Oil Imports, and one way to do it is DRILL DOMESTIC!

Lloyd | Mar. 6, 2009
My opinion is that with all the people out of jobs due to no drilling, it is certainly not "STIMULATING" the economy. Give these people back their jobs! DRILL!!!!

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