This is What Happened When Oil Giants Exxon and Mobil Joined Forces

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Our DeSmog UK epic history series continues with the merger between two oil giants, Exxon and Mobil.

A global superpower was created on 30th November 1998, with the $81bn merger between Exxon and Mobil.

The deal was quick on the heels of rival BP’s merger with Amoco, but the ExxonMobil deal outshone that of BP Amoco by billions of dollars.

In its first year, ExxonMobil earned $228bn – more than Sweden’s GDP at the time. In the coming years, the denial machine would have the economic force of an OECD nation state behind it.

An Out-And-Out Sceptic

Exxon boss Lee “Iron Ass” Raymond announced the deal, speaking for 28 minutes before Mobil’s partner got a word in. The hunting man’s views on climate science were well known: he was an out-and-out sceptic.

Exxon’s favoured think tanks were those whose strategies emphasised “the promotion of free-market principles,” as lobbyist and future Whitehouse mole Phil Cooney put it.

With Raymond at the helm, Antony Fisher’s libertarian think tanks thrived as the super-corporation spent millions funding their network of “independent” scientists and researchers, whose explicit aims were to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on global warming. 

Annual Donations

Donations to Fisher’s Atlas Foundation, for instance, rose from around $280,000 to nearly $800,000 between 1998 and 2003; his Fraser institute received $120,000 from ExxonMobil in just two years to work specifically on climate change. 

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) saw its annual donations more than double from $460,000 to over $1.1m. Its tagline was “Free Markets and Small Government”.

By 2003, Exxon’s donations to the CEI represented more than 15 percent of its total income. After bankrolling George W Bush into office, Exxon’s agents would doctor documents, hire and fire public servants at national and international levels, and dislocate international efforts to combat climate change.

After an environmental offensive on both sides of the pond from Tony Blair, Lord Browne and Al Gore, this was the empire striking back.

Next up on the DeSmog UK epic history series, ExxonMobil uses its PR power to change the public’s mind on climate change.

@brendanmontague

Photo: Mike Mozart via flickr

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