London-based oil and gas giant BP reported on Tuesday that it posted an 8.2 billion dollar profit in the third quarter, more than doubling its figure from the same period last year amid rising European costs.
The company has announced that it will use its profits to buy back its stock worth $2.5 billion, rewarding shareholders as millions of people across the United Kingdom struggle to heat their homes ahead of winter. According to the Times of MoneyBP has bought back more than $10 billion of its own shares this year.
“While fossil fuel companies are allowed to make record-breaking profits, households face astronomical energy bills.”
The advocacy group Global Witness estimates that BP’s $27 billion in revenue over the past 12 months could cover the energy costs of 9.4 million UK homes.
“The big fossil fuel companies are making eye-watering profits at the expense of millions of citizens who struggle to heat their homes, cook food, or buy basic necessities,” said Jonathan Noronha-Gant, senior fossil fuel campaigner at Global Witness. “As winter fast approaches, a dividing line is emerging: whose side is the government on? The Brits facing financial difficulties or the industry making billions in profits from the current energy crisis?”
The UK’s Conservative government unveiled a tax on energy companies in May, but so far it has had little impact on the oil giant. Shell reported last week that it paid nothing in gas taxes in the country, and BP said on Tuesday it expected to fork over $800 million – a fraction of the profits it reaped from the global energy market turmoil caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
BP’s latest earnings announcement sparked calls for an aggressive air tax as Jeremy Hunt, the UK chancellor of the Exchequer, is expected to unveil a new economic plan later this month. The Guardian report that Hunt is “considering increasing the air tax by up to five percent, to 30%, and extending its life by three years, to 2028.”
The government of new right-wing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is also under pressure to reverse plans to cut public spending, which could harm millions of people across the country.
Freya Aitchison, oil and gas campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said in a statement that “the disclosure of yet another filthy lucre from an oil firm that is damaging the climate highlights the extent of the pain these companies are causing society.”
“While fossil fuel companies are allowed to make record-breaking profits, households face astronomical electricity bills and millions are pushed into fuel poverty,” said Aitchison. “The executives and shareholders of these big polluters have been allowed to get richer by exploiting one of our most basic needs. BP is further perpetuating climate change and climate change by continuing to invest and lock us into new oil and gas projects for decades to come.”
BP’s profit report came just hours after US President Joe Biden warned the fossil fuel giants that he was ready to support a tax windfall if the companies continued to dig into their stock while refusing to lower costs for consumers.
“The profits of the oil companies today are not because they are doing something new or something new,” Biden said in a speech at the White House on Monday. “Their profit is the spirit of war.”
Murray Auchincloss, BP’s chief financial officer, declined to comment on Biden’s speech when pressed by. Reuters.
In a statement on Tuesday, Daniel Willis of the UK-based group Global Justice now noted that Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies announced a combined profit of 170 billion dollars this year.
“To put this in perspective, that’s more than $116 billion a year in losses and damages estimated to cost the Global South, so far,” Willis said. “It doesn’t take much to connect the dots to see what’s going on here. When fossil fuel companies announce record profits just days before COP27, it’s time for leaders to join those dots once and for all and make polluters pay for the losses and it’s clear they can afford it, and a polluter tax can help reduce debt local electricity closer to home as well.
“People here and the Global South have one thing in common when it comes to companies like BP: they are ripping us off and they think they can keep running for the sake of people and the planet,” Willis added. The time has come to show them that the game is over.