Shell has announced profits of £14 billion on the day millions of families discovered their electricity and gas bills are set to rocket piling pressure on Boris Johnson to impose a windfall tax on energy firms.
Campaigners have said a windfall tax on North Sea oil giants could raise almost £4 billion to help families struggling in the face of a devastating cost-of-living crisis.
Shell chief Ben van Beurden, who has pocketed £70 million in seven years as the company’s CEO, promised shareholders bumper dividends as he hailed a “momentous year” for the company.
Sky-high wholesale gas prices, which are hammering households, helped Shell make £4.7 billion profit in just three months – taking their total profit for 2021 to £14.2 billion.
Labour has proposed a one-off windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas profits, with Ed Miliband last month saying it was “beggars belief” that ministers opposed the plan.
And, speaking to Channel 4 News on Thursday, the former shadow business secretary said poor families “will literally be forced to choose between heating and eating”.
“Some people want to say this is the first crisis of the net-zero era – they’re wrong,” Miliband said. “This should be the last crisis of the fossil fuel era.”
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves told the Mirror on Thursday: “Labour would raise money to keep bills low through a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas profits, to support all households, with households typically getting £200 off their bills.”
‘Goldmine for Shell’
But van Beurden dismissed calls for tougher levies on Shell, saying: “I’m not sure that windfall taxes, popular though they may seem, [are] going to help us with [energy] supply or help us with demand. But, of course, we stand ready to be in dialogue with the government on all measures.”
France last month said it would force state energy firm EDF to take €8.4 billion hit to protect households from rising energy costs by limiting bill hikes to four per cent this year.
And Spain last year introduced a windfall tax which is expected to raise about £1.7 billion to take the sting out of the prices crisis.
Kate Blagojevic of Greenpeace told the Mirror: “Our continued dependence on fossil fuels is a goldmine for companies like Shell and a scourge for bill payers and the planet.
“While Shell is quadrupling its profits off the back of record-high gas prices, millions of households are left with cold homes and astronomic bills.”
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