As soaring fuel prices are set to push one in three people in the UK into energy poverty this fall, Big Oil companies are seeing record profits. Today, BP announced that its profits between April and June had tripled since this time last year, hitting $9.3 billion - the company’s highest quarterly profits in 14 years. And they’re not alone. British energy giant Shell revealed in their latest report that their second-quarter adjusted earnings hit $11.5 billion - more than double the figure from Q2 in 2021. France’s TotalEnergies and Spain’s Repsol also saw hikes in their net profits, with gains of $2.2 billion and $2 billion, respectively.
As our chart shows, the U.S. energy companies Exxon and Chevron have seen the biggest leaps in their profits. Compared to last year's second quarter, Exxon’s earnings skyrocketed from $4.7 billion to $17.9 billion, while Chevron’s grew from $3.1 billion to $11.6 billion.
Gas prices in the U.S. have risen by more than $1 a gallon on average since 2021. It’s a similar tale in Europe, where energy prices are threatening to push the bloc’s largest economies into recession. This isn’t only costing consumers more at the pump, but also in terms of heating and deliveries, with UK media reporting that people are already having to choose between warmth and food. One possible countermeasure carried out in countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy - and currently contemplated in multiple others - is to introduce a windfall tax on Big Oil companies to ease the burden on low income and middle income households.
While these companies have been criticized for capitalizing on the fuel crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and fuelling the cost of living crisis, it is worth noting here that BP exited its stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft in February, at a cost of some $25 billion; which Reuters writes is the “most significant move yet by a Western company in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.”