An order for Exxon Mobil to pay $236 million in damages for groundwater contamination is by far the largest verdict in state history but represents only about two days’ worth of profit for the energy company, an industry analyst said.
Fadel Gheit, managing director of oil and gas research and a senior analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., said the verdict won’t put a dent in Exxon Mobil’s bottom line.
“Exxon will probably make close to a $40 billion profit this year,” Gheit said. “That’s two days’ work.”
He said it’s no surprise that Exxon Mobil would take the state’s 10-year-old contamination lawsuit to trial, saying the company “will make you sweat for every dollar you think you’re going to get.” Company leaders view it as a matter of principle, he said.
The jurors reached their verdict against the Irving, Texas-based energy company in less than 90 minutes after sitting through nearly three months of testimony. Lawyers on both sides were stunned by the speed with which they reached the verdict on liability and even more stunned when they took barely 20 minutes more to fill out the damages verdict.
Juror Dawn Booker, of Pembroke, said all 12 jurors felt “very, very confident about our decision.”