Exxon CEO's Meetings with Obama 'Constructive'

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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