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Oil Company Profits Surge

A customer holds a gas pump handle at an Exxon station in Vancouver, Washington (File Photo)

Major oil companies like ExxonMobil and Shell are reporting a surge in profits as crude oil prices rise and energy demand grows.

ExxonMobil said Thursday that the firm made nearly $11 billion in the first three months of this year, a 69 percent improvement over the same period a year ago.

Shell reported more than $6 billion net income for the quarter, a 22 percent gain over the same three month period last year.

In the United States, higher energy costs are blamed for slowing economic growth as drivers cope with sharply higher gasoline prices. That is why higher energy prices are becoming a key issue for voters and politicians.

Exxon President Rex Tillerson says his company needs significant profits because it will be investing between $33 and $37 billion a year for the next five years to develop new energy sources.