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Soaring Oil Company Profits Spark Political Criticism

Major oil companies have been reporting sharp increases in profits this week, sparking calls from some U.S. politicians for an investigation, a possible tax hike on profits, and new refinery construction to ease supply problems that boosted energy prices to record levels.

The latest third quarter profit report came from Chevron on Friday, showing a $3.6 billion net income, and a 12-percent hike in profit. Earlier, oil giant ExxonMobil showed a 75 percent profit hike and a nearly $10 billion net.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican, has asked colleagues to question top oil company executives at congressional hearings.

Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton criticized Republicans for opposing a plan to help the poor pay heating bills, and urged oil companies to invest in new energy technologies.

Some information for this report provided by Bloomberg and Reuters.