The oil and gas industry is one of the largest and most profitable industries in the United States. They achieve their often record-smashing profits by putting the bottom lines of themselves and their shareholders over the health and safety of their consumers, trashing the environment, polluting our air and water, and spilling millions of gallons of oil, sometimes in one spill. 

This review examined spill data from 2017-2020 for five oil companies: Shell, Chevron, Occidental, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil. Over the course of those three years, these companies spilled 4,466,498 gallons of oil, fuel, and other potentially harmful substances across 430 spill incidents. Of the five companies, Shell was responsible for the highest quantity of spilled oil and fuel, spilling 2.1 million gallons during this time period. Occidental Petroleum was responsible for the most spill incidents at 231.

A review of EPA air pollutant excess emissions data for the facilities of Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil found that these companies reported 778,783.13 pounds of hazardous air pollutants and 16,109,579.64 pounds of volatile organic compounds in 2020. Chevron was responsible for emitting the most hazardous air pollutants in 2020 at 396,168 pounds. In 2020, Chevron was also responsible for emitting the most volatile organic compounds (nearly 13 million pounds), greenhouse gasses (5.3 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent), benzene (32,551.69 pounds), carbon monoxide (12.3 million pounds), and methane (60.8 million pounds).

Meanwhile, from 2017–2020, these companies reported more than $152 billion in profits, $35.2 billion in stock buybacks, and $23.8 million in CEO bonuses. In 2023, these oil and gas companies reported a total of more than $105 billion in earnings.

While the oil and gas industry plots with a failed politician facing 88 criminal charges to gain even more power, they are spilling millions of gallons of oil and spewing toxic chemicals into the air, all while making billions of dollars in profit.


2017-2020: Oil Company Spills and Profits
CompanyQuantity Spilled (Gallons)# Of Spill IncidentsProfits Made
Occidental Petroleum694,496231$3,033,000,000



In 2023, Shell reported $28 billion in earnings. The CEO of Shell earned about $12 million in 2022 after energy prices soared due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.  

Spill Data
Emissions Data
Recent Chemical Incidents
In 2023, a fire erupted at a Shell chemical plant in Texas that sent nine workers to the hospital and caused a plume of smoke visible for miles. According to Shell officials, the product that ignited included cracked heavy gas oil, cracked light gas oil, and gasoline.



In 2023, Chevron reported $24.6 billion in earnings. Chevron’s CEO made $23.6 million in 2022, receiving a raise in his base pay for 2023 while Chevron’s worker pay declined. 

Spill Data
Emissions Data
Recent Chemical Incidents
In 2024, Chevron was investigated over complaints about a New Year’s Eve flaring incident at a refinery in California. The Bay Area Quality Management District said it received six air quality complaints stemming from the flaring.Just weeks prior to the incident, Chevron received four notices of violation connected to another flaring incident at the same facility.



In 2023, Occidental Petroleum reported $3.6 billion in profit. 

Spill Data
Recent Chemical Incidents
In 2022, workers at an Occidental Chemical plant in Texas were ordered to shelter in place after a ruptured valve caused a fire to break out at the facility, releasing chlorine gas into the air.



In 2023, ConocoPhillips reported $10.6 billion in earnings, and ConocoPhillips’ CEO made nearly $20 million in 2022.

Spill Data
Emissions Data



ExxonMobil reported $38.6 billion in earnings in 2023. Their CEO made $35.9 million in 2022.

Spill Data
Emissions Data
Recent Chemical Incidents
In 2021, four people were injured at an Exxon refining and petrochemical facility in Baytown, Texas, when a unit that processed gasoline components exploded. 


Companies Key Air Pollutant Emission Figures
CompanyTotal HAPs (lbs) 2020Total VOCs (lbs) 2020Total GHG (MTCO2e) 2020Benzene (lbs) 2020Carbon Dioxide (lbs) 2020Carbon Monoxide (lbs) 2020Methane (lbs) 2020
Shell3,679.6992,031.16No data reported1,464.72124,575,309.0959,875.705,247


This report analyzes data from the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) database on excess facility emissions from five companies. We pulled data on eight air violation types: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOC). These pollutants are generally measured in pounds, while some emissions reports give the pollutants’ MTCO2e, meaning metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. We pulled data on four water violation types: oil and grease, hydrocarbon, ammonia, and total organic carbon.  

We sought complete air and water emissions violation data for the previous five years, going back to 2017. However, the most recent air emissions data available via Detailed Facility Reports was from 2020. For water violations, the most recent data available was for 2022. 

Following our data collection from the EPA’s ECHO database, we collected data for the same time frame (2017-2020), from the 33 states that we found had publicly available data, as well as from news reports. 

Featured chemical incident data spans the period of 2021–2023, the most recent data available on the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters’ Chemical Incident Tracker.


We thank the Center for Western Priorities for its inspiration and work safeguarding the landscapes of the American West. We also thank Coming Clean and The Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform for useful discussions and data, its dedication to reducing harm in the chemical industry, and its fight for environmental justice.