Energy returns

Shell and Centrica post £11bn total profit

Profit centres: Shell and British Gas

Energy giants Shell and Centrica were again in the spotlight after reporting soaring profits at at time when households and businesses are struggling to pay their bills.

Shell posted a better-than-expected second-quarter profit of $11.5bn (£10bn) – £1,200 per second – and announced a share buyback programme of $6bn to start in the third quarter. Income surged 154% to $18bn.

British Gas and Scottish Gas owner Centrica saw adjusted half-year operating profits rocket 412% to £1.34bn from £262m a year earlier.

It said the profits came against a backdrop of “high and volatile” commodity prices.

It has reinstated its dividend for the first time since the pandemic, declaring an interim payout of 1p, saying it would reinstate its progressive dividend to shareholders and “retain our historic policy to pay roughly one third of the full year dividend as an interim”.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady branded the profits an “insult”, adding: “It’s time working people got their fair share of the wealth they create, starting with real action to bring bills down.”

Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss said now is “not the time” for energy firms to pay more tax to help with the cost of people’s bills.

Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, recognised the “huge challenges for consumers, governments and companies alike” caused by the “volatile energy markets”, but argued that the company was “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.”

Centrica said most profit was from gas production, its nuclear power stake, and selling its holding in a Norwegian firm. Profits at British Gas’s supplier arm fell 43% to £98million.

Centrica chief Chris O’Shea said it is investing £50m to help customers via grants and more call centre staff. 

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