The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy IQ, Day 4: Who Owns 'Big Oil?

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted July 2, 2009

When oil companies do well, who benefits? Is it solely the companies' management? Or do average investors benefit as well? Consider this question:

What percent of U.S. oil companies' stocks are owned by corporate management?

Test your Energy IQ to answer this question and others, and watch the video to see what other people thought about U.S. oil company stock ownership.

So if you're wondering who owns the oil companies chances are--you do. In fact, only 1.5 percent of company shares are owned by industry executives.

It's a common misperception that oil executives are the only benefactors of industry success. Instead, the bulk of oil company benefactors are hardworking men and women across America who invest in mutual fund accounts, IRAs or personal retirement accounts. If you have a retirement account, there's a good chance a portion of it is invested in oil, natural gas and energy stocks.

For more information, read the stock ownership study below by economists Robert J. Shapiro and Nam D. Pham. And check back later to test your energy knowledge.


Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.