If you're wondering who owns "Big Oil," chances are good the answer is "you do."

If you have a mutual fund account, and 55 million U.S. households do, there's a 
good chance it invests in oil and natural gas stocks. If you have an IRA or 
personal retirement account, and 45 million U.S households do, there's a good 
chance it invests in energy stocks.

It's a common mis-perception that oil executives are the only benefactors of 
industry success. Instead, the bulk of 'Big Oil' benefactors are hardworking 
men and women across America who boost their retirement portfolios through oil 
and natural gas stock. In fact, only 1.5 percent of company shares are owned by 
industry executives. The rest are owned by mutual fund investors, or those 
planning for retirement with pension and IRA funds.

Stock Ownership of Oil Companies

As API Chief Economist John Felmy has noted: "When politicians seek to punish 
these companies and 'take their profits,' they are not targeting industry 
executives but the hard-earned savings of working people."

A study by economists Robert J. Shapiro and Nam D. Pham found:

    * Almost 43 percent of oil and natural gas company shares are owned by 
mutual funds and asset management companies that have mutual funds. Mutual 
funds manage accounts for 55 million U.S. households with a median income of 
    * Twenty seven percent of shares are owned by other institutional investors 
like pension funds. In 2004, more than 2,600 pension funds run by federal, 
state and local governments held almost $64 billion in shares of U.S. oil and 
natural gas companies. These funds represent the major retirement security for 
the nation's current and retired soldiers, teachers, and police and fire 
personnel at every level of government.
    * Fourteen percent of shares are held in IRA and other personal retirement 
accounts. Forty five million U.S. households have IRA and other personal 
retirement accounts, with an average account value of just over $22,000.

For more information read the news release that accompanies the study, 
including quotes from Shapiro, undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs 
under President Bill Clinton, and Pham.


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