Big profits for big oil

April 25, 2011 12:51:59 PM PDT
For all those struggling to afford to fill up their car gas tanks with prices at the pump well above $4 a gallon - some news that might make you gaseous.

The big five oil companies are set to report their first-quarter profits this week, and analysts predict profits will be up about 45% over last year - to about $35 billion. Do the math, and it comes to $389 million in profits, every day.

The companies insist most of the profits come from the so-called "downstream" operations - the exploration and extraction of oil. But to most consumers that will ring hollow. With the high price of gas affecting the cost of just about everything, the oil companies profiting so handily while so many others suffer will not go over well.

Of course, there's not much recourse, given the current regulatory rules and environment. But Americans are ticked by the 25% price rise this year in gas prices, and it can't be good news for Pres. Obama's popularity ratings. It is, to quote the oft-quoted James Carville, the economy, stupid. And if the economy is still suffering and not on the upswing, then it makes Mr. Obama's re-election process an uphill one.

We'll have the latest on the price of gas - and the fallout for the economy - tonight at 11.

Also at 11, and talk about chutzpah, nearly 500 political prisoners in Afghanistan are free tonight after a rather spectacular and bold prison break. The Taliban is taking credit for staging the exit - through a long tunnel that, depending on whom you believe, was either dug from the outside in, or vice versa. It happened in Kandahar at the Sarposa prison - the biggest in the southern region of the country. And it's not the first time - there was another big prison break nearly three years ago, when the Taliban freed 1,200 prisoners, including more than 350 of their own members.

Another sign of a less-than-successful U.S. effort in Afghanistan, or a blip on the screen? We'll have the latest tonight.

And with money so tight, we are taking a fascinating look at one way to save: Buying used car parts from salvage yards. They are cheaper, to be sure, but there are some pitfalls. Consumer Reports takes a closer look.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast, Rob Powers with the night's sports, and Liz Cho, anchoring our royal wedding coverage from London, tonight at 11.


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