Politicians reacted angrily this week after oil companies Shell and Exxon reported record high profits in the midst of a worldwide cost of living crisis.
Energy giant Shell reported an annual profit of 42 billion USD on Thursday, making 2022 one of the best years in the company’s history. This follows on the heels of Exxon’s 56 billion USD profit that was published earlier in the week.
Fuel companies are riding the wave of surging energy prices because the war in Ukraine, and the resulting boycott of Russian oil and gas have diminished supply worldwide.
The oil conglomerates’ financial reports arrive at a time when steep inflation and high energy bills have forced consumers to tighten the purse strings, causing politicians to waste no time in registering their disgust.
“Shell is the classic example of a major company that just does what it wants, regardless of any government. In fact they’ve always been pampered by the government! But ultimately it’s the consumer that has to pay the price, and I think people will not take it much longer,” says Jimmy Dijk, chairman of the Groningen Socialist Party.
High energy prices will not only make themselves felt in expensive energy bills and pricy gasoline, but will also have a further impact on consumers, according to Hendrik Jan Pleijsier of Wagenborg Shipping Company.
“We are no longer allowed to do business with Russia of course, or buy fuel there for our ships, which saved us thousands of dollars in the past because it was the cheapest in the world. So higher energy costs mean that shipping costs will go up too, and ultimately the price of consumer goods. It is a balancing act, really,” Pleijsier said.
The record profits also sparked the ire of US President Joe Biden, who tweeted on Wednesday that oil companies should lower their prices by increasing their production. “The only thing stopping Big Oil from increasing production is their decision to pay shareholders billions instead of reinvesting profits,” Biden commented.
Some of those profits will in fact be invested in sustainable energy, according to the spokesperson for Shell Nederland, Tim Kezer.
“We plan on spending 60 billion USD in the next year, and one third of that will be on green energy, like the further development of biofuels,” Kezer claimed.
Jimmy Dijk was not impressed.
“How nice of them! But seriously, we can be angry at Shell all we want, and it would be justified, but they don’t give a damn either way. We should really be angry with people like Mark Rutte and Sigrid Kaag. It’s liberal politicians like them that have always made life easy for big companies like Shell by giving them total freedom to do what they want,” he scoffed.