Criticism and protests intensify as oil profits keep rising

Protests have begun in Scotland as climate activists demonstrate against the huge profits announced by yet another oil and gas supplier yesterday. 

Following widespread outrage at the vastly improved profits published by BP and Shell over recent days, the Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor have steamrollered into the debate with the announcement of a record £62b profit for 2022, a figure that eclipses the combined profits of both British companies.

The fact that Equinor make a good slice of that profit in the North Sea has prompted climate activists in Scotland to begin protesting at the company’s Aberdeen HQ today. Among the protestors are representatives of the Stop Rosebank campaign whose raison d’etre is to prevent the development of the Rosebank oil field, 80 miles west of Shetland, which Equinor are currently waiting on Government approval for.

Rosebank is the largest undeveloped field in UK waters and protest groups such as Friends of the Earth are quick to point out the CO2 released by a comprehensive exploitation of the field’s resources would surpass that of the 28 lowest income countries in the World.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s oil and gas campaigner Freya Aitchison said: ‘The fact that Equinor and other fossil fuel companies made such obscene profits is a real slap in the face for the millions of people who are struggling to pay their energy bills and keep their homes warm this winter. On top of this, the UK Government is incentivising Equinor to drill for more oil and gas in the Rosebank field by giving them a £500m tax break.’

Meanwhile, criticism of the profits at BP and Shell continued to rain down on both companies. Particularly in the firing line is Shell’s new chief executive, Wael Sawan, who announced a boost in payouts to shareholders with a 15% increase in the final quarter dividend, prompting Helen Thomas at the Financial Times to observe that: ‘Shell handed more back to its shareholders last year than it invested in any type of future energy, clean or dirty.’

Greenpeace activists targeted Shell’s HQ, setting up a mock petrol station price sign (left) while Fiona Duggan, Policy Lead at climate solutions charity Ashden, took aim at BP: ‘These profits are particularly shocking at a time where UK families are struggling due to sky-high oil and gas prices. The government has a duty to close the loophole in the windfall tax, and use that money to reduce the cost of living crisis.

‘They can do this by investing in a national retrofit programme. Supporting retrofitting is the clear choice – it will rapidly change cold, damp, homes with high energy bills into cosy, insulated, cheaper-to-run homes. Not only that it will also create new jobs in every corner of the country and support the government’s net-zero and levelling-up targets,’ she continued.

FairFuelUK were also aghast at the figures, arguing that artificially high pump prices are contributing towards the ‘obscene’ profits.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, a number of high profile names expressed serious opposition, with Chris Packham perhaps offering the most chilling take: ‘We are being cooked , choked and taken to the cleaners . . . if we ever become anyone’s ancestors they will ask ‘what the hell were those mugs doing? They stood by and let them burn the world.”

In December, Air Quality News reported on record fines handed out to a number of North Sea oil and gas operators for over-production and emissions. Earlier this week, a new study by Princeton and Colorado State University revealed huge flaws in the methodology used to calculate greenhouse has emissions. Output from the UK and several other countries could therefore be five times higher than official figures show

Images: Friends of the Earth Scotland (Top) / Greenpeace (Bottom)


Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Don’t often see chilling and Chris Packham in the same sentence.

P Saw
P Saw
1 year ago

great stuff, well done Paul

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top