Amerada Hess specializes in oil exploration and production worldwide. The company also sells gasoline from almost 2,000 Hess gas stations, chiefly in the eastern US. The New York-based company recorded $23.25 billion in sales and employed 11,610 people in 2005. CEO John Hess owns about 14% of the company.
In the oil and gas industry Amerada Hess may seem dwarfed by competitors such as Exxon, Shell and BP with sales in the hundreds of billions.
However, the oil exploration company still plays a distinct role in the development of destructive projects, price gouging and community health threats. Amerada Hess is working with BP to build the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline through eastern and central Europe. This pipeline passes through or nearby seven conflict areas, necessitating a militarized zone that will span 1,000 miles.
Amerada Hess Corp. is among a group of oil industry companies alleged to have conspired to mislead the public, municipal corporations and water suppliers, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, about the dangers of adding MTBE to gasoline by downplaying the threat the chemical posed to groundwater. MTBE was added to gasoline to lessen air pollution impacts, but certain companies within the oil industry knew that MTBE would leak into groundwater and contaminate drinking water supplies. It is alleged these companies hid the groundwater threat and promoted MTBE's use anyway. A New York judge recently ruled that plaintiffs including cities, municipalities, and private well owners in New York City and New Hampshire, can proceed with more than 80 lawsuits on behalf of about 190 municipalities and other water providers seeking to hold oil companies, including Amerada Hess, responsible for both the pollution of groundwater and for the significant costs of MTBE cleanup.
Amerada Hess is planning to build a large liquefied natural gas terminal in Fall River, MA despite resident protests that the facility belongs in a less populated area of the state. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved plans for the LNG terminal in June 2005, however citizens continue to express concerns over the danger posed by potential terrorist threats as well as the terminal's impact on the environment and local waterways.
In 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Marathon Oil, Amerada Hess and ChevronTexaco were under investigation by federal authorities for possible violations of securities laws prohibiting bribes to foreign government officials. The SEC notified the companies of the probe by letter, following the release of a Senate report describing transactions handled by Riggs Bank involving the companies and the dictator of Equatorial Guinea and his family. "Oil companies operating in Equatorial Guinea may have contributed to corrupt practices in that country by making substantial payments to, or entering into business ventures with, individual Equatorial Guinea officials, their family members, or entities they control, with minimal public disclosure of their actions," the Senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigations said.
A grand jury is investigating Riggs’ embassy banking division for violations of money-laundering laws in its handling of the Equatorial Guinea accounts. Riggs is accused of allowing Equatorial Guinea and its dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, to siphon millions of dollars in oil revenue into his personal accounts.