BP boss Bernard Looney said the oil and gas giant had become a “cash machine” with bumper shareholder payouts, soaring profits, booming asset valuations.
North Sea oil and gas companies are expected to report near-record cashflows of almost $20bn (£14.9bn) for the current financial year. Wholesale gas prices have soared in Europe and the UK. Gas has risen as much as tenfold to new all-time highs.
Shell, the world’s largest producer and trader of liquefied natural gas (LNG), said last week that profits would be higher than expected thanks to the elevated prices. Unlike gas that arrives via pipelines from fields in the North Sea, LNG is shipped across oceans to the highest bidder, meaning companies like Shell benefit from surging global prices.
Shell was already planning to hand investors a $7bn bonus by offering to buy shares back from them, but has now said this will happen “at pace”.
The largest North Sea explorer Harbour Energy, expected “materially higher free cashflow at current commodity prices” and announced a $200m-a-year (£147m) dividend for investors.
Rising oil prices have been good news for chemical group Ineos, which is owned by Monaco-based British multi-billionaire Jim Racliffe. Revenues increased by 87%, or €2.4bn, to €5.1bn in the three-month period ending on 30 September 2021.
Ithaca, owned by the Israeli group Delek, said rising prices meant gas revenue per barrel from its North Sea assets, which include the Alba and Alder gas fields, nearly doubled in the third quarter, from $49 last year to $97. As it boosted production to meet demand and cash in on strong prices, revenues from gas more than tripled from $59m to $180m over the three-month period.