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Shell posts record profits for second quarter running as energy prices stay high

·4-min read

Shell will return billions of dollars to its shareholders as it continues to profit from massive energy price hikes following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The business said it would buy back six billion dollars (£4.9 billion) worth of shares from its investors, as earnings beat expectations.

Adjusted earnings hit nearly 11.5 billion dollars (£9.5 billion) for the second quarter of the year, compared with the less than 11 billion (£9 billion) that analysts had forecast.

It is a record second quarter result for the business.

The record profits are easy to trace, with the price of the barrels of oil it sells rising from 62.53 dollars a year ago to 101.42 today.

Gas prices rose from 4.31 dollars to 13.85 dollars per thousand standard cubic feet over the same period.

These prices are feeding through to people across the world.

In the UK, household energy bills are expected to spike to £3,850 in January – almost twice the level of today’s record high.

Fuel bills for drivers and food prices have also risen due to the increased price of fossil fuels.

“With volatile energy markets and the ongoing need for action to tackle climate change, 2022 continues to present huge challenges for consumers, governments, and companies alike,” said chief executive Ben van Beurden.

“Consequently, we are using our financial strength to invest in secure energy supplies which the world needs today, taking real, bold steps to cut carbon emissions, and transforming our company for a low-carbon energy future.”

On a call with reporters, Shell finance boss Sinead Gorman criticised the Government’s windfall tax.

The tax gave strong incentives which allowed companies to invest in oil and gas. But there were no tax incentives in the policy for green investment.

“What we’re very hopeful for is that governments will continue to incentivise that transition, and that is really what we’re pushing for,” Ms Gorman said.

Gas prices are rising across Europe and the continent faces a difficult winter ahead.

It remains to be seen if gas will need to be rationed in the continent, but with Russia strangling its gas supplies to the region, prices will be astronomically high.

It means that Europe will turn to buying gas from elsewhere.

Mr van Beurden said it is a “very uncomfortable” position because Europeans will be outbidding other countries to attract the world’s limited number of liquid natural gas (LNG) shipments.

“There is not a lot of spare capacity of LNG in the world, it’s not like oil where somehow we have a reservoir of spare capacity that can be brought to bear,” he said.

“What really needs to happen is if we in Europe want more LNG we have to take it away from those who are getting it at the moment.”

He said that fortunately LNG demand from China has not yet recovered to pre-Covid levels, so that gas is “fair game”.

“But of course if we really have to supply a lot more into Europe to deal with the tightness that may come in the winter, we will have to significantly, as a world, eat into LNG supplies that would otherwise go to an economy that also needs them.”

He said that the alternative for many of these countries will be to burn more coal.

Labour’s shadow climate change and net zero secretary Ed Miliband said: “As profits soar to record levels for oil and gas producers, we face a serious and worsening energy bills crisis, far worse even than a couple of months ago.

“Yet at the same time the Government is proposing billions in new tax breaks for oil and gas – an obscene decision when families are facing a true cost-of-living emergency.

“Both candidates for the Tory leadership have shown themselves living on another planet when it comes to the cost of living emergency.

“Rishi Sunak opposed the windfall tax tooth and nail and has introduced a multi-billion tax break for the oil and gas sector, while Liz Truss appears to believe that the cost-of-living crisis can be solved by abandoning renewable energy – the cheapest form of power we have.”

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