Stealth bailout gives money to big oil. As it headed toward bankruptcy, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. took advantage of a little noticed provision in the stimulus bill Congress passed in March to get a $9.7 million tax refund. Then it asked a bankruptcy judge to authorize the same amount as bonuses to nine executives. The rig operator is one of dozens of oil companies and contractors now claiming hundreds of millions of dollars in tax rebates. They are employing a provision of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law, called the CARES act, that gives them more latitude to deduct recent losses. “This is a stealth bailout for the oil and gas industry,” said Jesse Coleman, a senior researcher with Documented, a watchdog group tracking the tax claims. It’s geared to companies “that have been losing money over the last few years–and now they get that money back as a check from the taxpayers. That’s exactly what the oil industry has been doing.” Stealth bailout gives money to big oil.

The change wasn’t aimed only at the oil industry. However, its structure uniquely benefits energy companies that were raking in record profits in 2018 as crude prices reached $76.41 per barrel, only to see their fortunes flip a year later. More than $1.9 billion in Cares Act tax benefits are being claimed by at least 37 oil companies, service firms and contractors, according to a Bloomberg News review of recent filings with the Security and Exchange Commission. Besides Diamond Offshore, which declined to comment, recipients include oil producer Occidental Petroleum Corp. and refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp. As more time has gone by, it appears that many large corporations have also taken advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program to obtain money that was originally intended for small businesses. It appears that under cover of the pandemic, and the government shutdown, that many large corporations have taken advantage ot the system, and in many instances the appearance of fraud has raised its ugly head.