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Shell logs record 2022 profit on soaring energy prices

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Shell's revenue rocketed 45 percent to a dizzying $381 billion in 2022./AFP
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Feb 02, 2023 - 01:15 PM

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — Shell’s net profit surged to a record $42.3 billion last year, the British energy giant said Thursday, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent oil and gas prices soaring.

The post-tax figure was more than double the amount achieved in 2021, the group’s earnings statement revealed. Revenue rocketed 45 percent to a dizzying $381 billion in 2022, mirroring huge gains by rivals.

Colossal profits for energy majors have sparked public fury amid a cost-of-living crisis fuelled by sky-high energy bills.

Environmental campaigner Greenpeace meanwhile on Thursday protested outside Shell’s London headquarters, arguing that the group is “profiteering from climate destruction”.

Shell said it would return a further $4 billion to shareholders following huge buybacks already last year — and would significantly lift its dividend — following the record earnings.

“Our results in the fourth quarter and across the full year demonstrate the strength of Shell’s differentiated portfolio, as well as our capacity to deliver vital energy to our customers in a volatile world,” new chief executive Wael Sawan said in the results statement.

Shell is looking to reinvent itself under the company’s former renewables boss Sawan, who replaced Ben van Beurden in the top seat at the start of the year.

Despite increasingly presenting themselves as greener companies with countries slowly shifting towards a carbon net-zero world, fossil fuel production remains key to powering the global economy over the next two decades.

Shell rival BP said on Monday while a worldwide transition away from fossil fuels could be accelerated by the Ukraine-Russia war, it added in a report that “oil continues to play a major role in the global energy system for the next 15-20 years”.

The invasion a year ago of Ukraine by its neighbour Russia sent oil and gas prices rocketing.

Russia is a major producer of fossil fuels and the war resulted in slashed supplies.

Record US profits 

Shell’s update follows news Tuesday from US energy major ExxonMobil that its annual net profit hit a record at almost $56 billion, handing massive windfalls to shareholders.

This has caused US President Joe Biden to hit out at American energy giants, including Chevron, insisting they should be helping to reduce energy prices during a cost-of-living crisis.

On Tuesday Biden tweeted that the only thing “stopping Big Oil from increasing production (and therefore lowering prices) is their decision to pay shareholders billions instead of reinvesting profits”.

The president’s intervention came after a White House spokesperson told the BBC that Exxon’s record profits were “outrageous”, especially after “the American people were forced to pay such high prices at the pump” in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In a bid to ease the pain for consumers, governments have introduced windfall taxes on the mammoth profits.

Shell has revealed that windfall taxes imposed by the European Union and UK following the surge in earnings would cost the group about $2 billion.

“Shell has once more flexed its financial muscles on a massive scale, while riding the waves of an economic cycle which can bring major challenges as well as rewards,” Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said following the results update.

“The fluctuating opinions surrounding demand from China following its reopening will continue, and there could also be bumps in the road should even a mild global recession ensue.”

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