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Exxon's Efforts To Help T. Boone Pickens

Concrete artist T. Boone Pickens' hedge funds are reportedly up 79% this year. While illusions of $200 oil are probably long gone, TBP is likely taking comfort that Exxon is doing its part to put a floor under the price of oil by reducing access to potential supply. The Texas General Land Office is accusing Exxon of "malicious" sabotage of oil wells on fields that it no longer wanted. To avoid giving other producers any opportunity to extract black gold from former Exxon grounds, the company apparently plugged its abandoned wells with a carefully balanced mixture of trash, sludge, explosives and cement plugs. But instead of an act of sabotage warranting a $1 billion fine, Exxon contends that it was on an environmental mission of mercy

"The allegations paint a false and misleading picture of Exxon Mobil's involvement in the O'Connor oil and gas leases," said Margaret Ross, an Exxon Mobil spokeswoman. "The area in which the wells are located has a water table very close to the surface. It was critical that Exxon protect the groundwater by plugging the wells solidly and thoroughly."

Compared with paying close to $5 billion for offloading 11 million gallons of crude into Prince William Sound, threatening Exxon with raiding its petty cash jar for $1 billion for its unique environmental program seems downright punitive.