OIL and gas giant Shell is to boost its dividends to shareholders after seeing profits double between July and September.
It posted profits of $9.5bn (£8.2bn) between July and September, more than double the amount it made during the same period a year earlier.
And the oil giant said it planned to increase its dividend per share by around 15% for the fourth quarter 2022, to be paid out in March 2023, subject to board approval. It takes the total payout to Shell shareholders to $26bn (£22.4bn) so far this year.
Shell also announced plans to return another $4bn (£3.5bn) to shareholders by buying back shares over the next three months.
Friends of the Earth Scotland has described the profits as “obscene” as the nation deals with the cost of living crisis.
The profits of what is Europe’s biggest energy company was driven by a sustained spike in wholesale gas prices, which have driven up bills for households and customers.’
It comes amidst growing pressure for there to be a greater windfall tax on energy firms to pay for the UK’s energy price freeze, brought in by former Prime Minister Liz Truss.
The new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt reined in the £2,500 average dual fuel energy price cap from two years to end at in April for a review. But there is no indication that the new Rishi Sunak government will break from Liz Truss’s insistance that it will not be funded by a windfall tax on energy firms.
TUC general secretaery Frances O’Grady said: “These profits are obscene – especially at a time when millions are struggling with soaring bills.
“The government has run out of excuses. It must impose a higher windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
“The likes of Shell are treating families like cash machines.
“Today is another reminder of why need to bring our energy sector back into public ownership. Households across Britain are being fleeced.”
Shell’s profits are down compared with the company’s second quarter, when it made $11.5bn (£9.9bn), as the price of oil slowly began to fall after months of multi-year highs due to the war in Ukraine.
“We are delivering robust results at a time of ongoing volatility in global energy markets,” said chief executive Ben van Beurden.
Shell is now nine months into what promises to be the company’s most profitable year ever, barring an unlikely major collapse in oil and gas prices over the next two months.
The business was already benefiting from a global economy that had reopened after the pandemic and was desperate for energy to fuel its growth.
Then Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked attack on Ukraine. This pushed European gas prices to all-time highs and the price of oil soared internationally.
The months-long energy crisis led to then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing a £15bn package of support for households struggling with the cost of living crisis, part-funded by a £5bn windfall tax on energy companies operating in the North Sea.
The chancellor set out what he called a “significant set of interventions” to help offset the impact of rocketing inflation before the multi-billion-pound energy bill freeze was brought in by Liz Truss.
Critics of Mr Sunak’s plan said it did not go far enough. But that has not stopped Shell from handing billions of dollars to its shareholders this year.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Oil and Gas campaigner Freya Aitchison said: “The announcement of yet another obscene profit for Shell shows the scale of the pain that these companies are inflicting on the public. While oil companies continue to make record breaking profits, ordinary people are facing skyrocketing energy bills and millions are being pushed into fuel poverty.
“Bosses and shareholders at Shell are being allowed to get even richer by exploiting one of our most basic needs. Shell is also worsening climate breakdown and extreme weather by continuing to invest and lock us into new oil and gas projects for decades to come.”
The campaigners say that the forthcoming Scottish Energy Strategy is a chance for Scotland to “chart a clear path” away from the oil and gas companies who are harming people and the planet to instead create an energy system that runs on renewable energy.
Greenpeace called for a “proper tax” on the energy giant’s profits, which it said could help insulate thousands of homes.
“While Shell continues to bank billions, how many more households need to be forced into fuel poverty before the Government wakes up? The only way to address the interlocking cost of living, energy security and climate crises is a street-by-street rollout of home insulation combined with a massive lift in ambition for renewable energy,” the campaign group’s UK senior climate adviser, Charlie Kronick, said.
Mr van Beurden said: “We continue to strengthen Shell’s portfolio through disciplined investment and transform the company for a low-carbon future.
“At the same time we are working closely with governments and customers to address their short- and long-term energy needs.