The five largest western oil and gas companies alone making a combined $200bn in profits. When the 2022 results for all publicly traded oil and gas companies are tallied the total profits are expected to exceed $400bn
The “big five” – Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP and TotalEnergies – all revealed that last year was the most profitable in their respective histories.
Exxon, the Texas-based oil giant, led the way with a record $55.7bn in annual profit, taking home around $6.3m every hour that ticked over last year. California’s Chevron had a record $36.5bn profit, while Shell announced the best results of its 115-year history, a $39.9bn surplus, and BP, another London-based firm, notched a $27.7bn profit. The French company TotalEnergies also had a record, at $36.2bn.
"...built off the backs of working families who were victimized by oil and gas executives’ greed”, according to Claire Moser, deputy executive director of the US activist group Climate Power.
The big five oil and gas companies have already confirmed that most of the bumper profits will be going to stock buybacks and dividends. The $200bn in combined profits equates to around five times the US’s annual foreign aid budget.
Last year, more than 1tn dollars were invested in fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction worldwide.
António Guterres, the secretary-general of the UN, was scornful of the industry in a speech, in which he expressed incredulity at the “monster profits” of fossil fuel companies at a time when the world needs to be rapidly slashing its planet-heating emissions to avoid climate breakdown.
“If you cannot set a credible course for net-zero [emissions], with 2025 and 2030 targets covering all your operations, you should not be in business,” Guterres said. “Your core product is our core problem. We need a renewables revolution, not a self-destructive fossil fuel resurgence.”
The sale of oil and gas remains so enticing that BP this week announced it is scaling back its climate ambitions, retaining its fossil fuel assets for longer than it previously expected.
Said Bernard Looney, BP’s chief executive, “At the end of the day, we’re responding to what society wants.”
“If the bulk of your investments remain tied to fossil fuels, and you even plan to increase those investments, you cannot maintain to be Paris-aligned, because you will not achieve large-scale emissions reductions by 2030,” said Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, an activist shareholder group. “The picture is clear now, no oil major has plans to drive down emissions this decade. Now it’s up to the shareholders. Together with major investors, we continue to compel BP to put its full weight behind the energy transition.”