This past year Exxon Mobil posted profits of $39.5 billion, giving them the largest profit reported by a US company, while topping their record of $36.13 billion from 2005. The influence behind these profits were the high crude oil prices experienced during the past summer (nearly reaching $80 per barrel). Exxon Mobil is not the only oil company to report large profits, ConocoPhillips reported earnings of $15.55 billion, the highest in the company's history. During the last quarter of the year, many companies earnings were down to due to the reduction of oil and natural gas prices. Do you think these high earnings reported by companies such as Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips give them an advantage over smaller companies with similar interests in oil exploration?