The petroleum industry is the #1 tax paying industry to the federal government - something on the order of $50B a year IIRC. In that context, a few percent of that being returned in credits / tax breaks or outright subsidies is more like the 'Cash Back' feature on our credit cards... It is also an example of how any politician, when confronted with a revenue stream, will seek to buy favors with it - which in turn creates an office (or building) full of people asking for it.
I agree with the point - I'd love to see the government get out of the check writing business in a big way, but pretending that Big Oil is getting a free ride is not accurate. If we're going to have a rational discussion on fixing problems we need to be honest with ourselves and each other