Exxon bombshell stokes oil industry scrutiny

By Shelby Webb | 05/03/2024 06:57 AM EDT

The FTC finding that a Texas oil executive colluded with OPEC comes amid a congressional investigation and a surge in climate litigation.

 An oil pump jack operates in the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas.

An oil pump jack operates in the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission alleged Thursday that a former oil executive colluded with OPEC to keep oil and gasoline prices high, adding fuel to growing scrutiny of the fossil fuel industry’s practices in the courts and on Capitol Hill.

Scott Sheffield, founder and former CEO of Texas-based Pioneer Natural Resources, repeated private conversations with high-ranking OPEC representatives and exchanged hundreds of text messages with the cartel “assuring them that Pioneer and its Permian Basin rivals were working hard to keep oil output artificially low,” according to the FTC.

The agency still green-lighted Exxon Mobil’s $59.5 billion merger with Pioneer Natural Resources under the condition Sheffield won’t serve on Exxon’s board or in an advisory capacity.


“Mr. Sheffield’s past conduct makes it crystal clear that he should be nowhere near Exxon’s boardroom. American consumers shouldn’t pay unfair prices at the pump simply to pad a corporate executive’s pocketbook,” said Kyle Mach, deputy director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “The FTC will remain vigilant in its enforcement efforts to protect competition in these vital markets.”