Ask A Question Who Owns Big Oil? The Answer Might Surprise You.

How it all breaks down

  • 31.2% Pension Funds
  • 21.1% Individual Investors
  • 20.6% Mutual Funds
  • 17.7% IRAs
  • 6.6% Other Institutional Investors
  • 2.8% Oil Company Executives


You might be surprised to find out that, chances are, you do.

In a 2011 update on a study of oil and natural gas company ownership, the Sonecon consulting firm found that nearly 50 percent of all corporate shares are held by public and private pension and retirement funds, including 401(k)s, and IRAs. Individual investors own 20 percent, while financial institutions and asset management companies own 27 percent. That's 97 percent. Less than 3 percent is owned by corporate executives and board members.

A closer look at the data reveals even more surprises about oil company ownership:

  • Nearly 21 percent of oil and natural gas shares are in mutual funds, held by 52.3 million American households with a median annual income of $80,000 in 2011.
  • Nearly 18 percent of industry shares are held through IRAs, with 48.6 million households owning one or more IRAs. Of those IRA holders, 80 percent had annual incomes of $70,000 or less in 2010.
  • More than 31 percent of industry shares are owned by public or private pension plans, including 401(k)s (not including IRAs). The funds manage assets for more than 60 million households, with an average account value of less than $55,000. You can learn more about oil and natural gas earnings and pensions here.

These numbers make it clear that healthy oil and natural gas industry earnings are a benefit to millions of Americans’ retirement security. And that’s not the only way in which strong earnings benefit Americans. The oil and natural gas industry contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy through federal and state revenues, jobs and capital projects.

This is all done while ensuring a reliable supply of energy for United States’ consumers and businesses, and enhancing our nation’s energy security. In fact, the oil and natural gas industry’s impact on the U.S. economy is significant, supporting nearly 9.2 million American jobs and 7.7 percent of all U.S. GDP, and delivering more than $86 million a day to the federal treasury.

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The oil and natural gas industry fuels U.S. job creation, the American economy and our way of life. Sign up with one of our social action networks today to make your voice heard Together, we can find commonsense solutions to our nation's energy challenges.

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