In the first quarter of this year, Royal Dutch Shell achieved an all-time high in profits, amassing over $9.6 billion (£7.6 billion) despite a decline in oil and gas prices from the previous year’s peak levels.
Surpassing expectations, the adjusted earnings exceeded the company’s former first-quarter record of $9.1 billion set during the same period last year and greatly surpassed the $7.96 billion projected by industry experts.
As Europe’s largest oil and gas corporation, Shell now plans to provide shareholders with $4 billion in share repurchases over the upcoming three months.
In the first quarter of this year, global oil prices averaged $81.7 per barrel, as reported by Shell, a decrease from $102.2 per barrel during the same timeframe in the previous year. This decline occurred after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a spike in oil and gas markets.
Shell’s new CEO, Wael Sawan, noted that the company demonstrated “strong results and solid operational performance” amidst persistent market volatility.
In 2022, Shell recorded an unprecedented annual profit of $40 billion, following higher-than-anticipated earnings in the last quarter of the year. These full-year profits more than doubled compared to 2021 due to soaring oil and gas market prices, which led to demands for a windfall tax on the earnings.
Tommy Vickerstaff, an activist at 350.org, an organization opposing new oil and gas projects, argued that governments should impose stricter taxes on the “excessively high” profits of oil companies.
Vickerstaff stated that the UK government has consistently neglected to sufficiently tax these profits, despite increasing bills and millions of additional people being driven into fuel poverty.
Earlier this week, BP announced a profit of $4.96 billion for the first quarter, a decrease from $6.2 billion in the same quarter last year, but significantly higher than the $4.3 billion analysts had anticipated.
A survey conducted by Christian Aid, an international development charity, discovered that nearly 80% of UK adults believe it is unjust for oil and gas companies to achieve record profits without acknowledging their contribution to the climate crisis. Over 60% of respondents think the government should tax fossil fuel profits to financially support communities affected by the impacts of climate change.
Patrick Watt, Christian Aid’s CEO, stated: “Fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP attaining record profits should serve as a wake-up call and prompt genuine accountability for the harm they inflict. This sentiment isn’t solely shared by Christian Aid, but also by an overwhelming majority of the British public. The UK government should ensure that major polluters fulfil their moral obligation to rectify the climate damage they have caused.”
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