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Shell profits double to nearly $40 billion

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Shell profits double to nearly $40 billion

Hong Kong/London

Shell made a record profit of almost $40 billion in 2022, more than double what it raked in the previous year after oil and gas prices soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Europe’s largest oil company by revenue reported adjusted full-year earnings of $39.9 billion on Thursday — more than double the $19.3 billion it posted in 2021 — driven by a strong performance in its gas trading business. The company’s stock was up 2.6% in London at midday.

Just over 40% of Shell’s full-year earnings came from its integrated gas business, which includes liquefied natural gas trading operations. The unit was responsible for almost two thirds of Shell’s $9.8 billion profit in the final three months of the year.

Shell CEO Wael Sawan said the results “demonstrate the strength of Shell’s differentiated portfolio, as well as our capacity to deliver vital energy to our customers in a volatile world.”

The earnings are the latest in a series of record-setting results by the world’s biggest energy companies, which have enjoyed bumper profits off the back of soaring oil and gas prices.

ExxonMobil this week posted record full-year earnings of $59.1 billion. Last month, Chevron (CVX) reported a record full-year profit of $36.5 billion.

That has led to renewed calls for higher taxation. Governments in the European Union and the United Kingdom have already imposed windfall taxes on oil company profits, with the proceeds used to help households struggling with rising energy bills.

Shell said it expected to take an additional $2.3 billion tax charge in 2022 related to the EU windfall tax and the UK energy profits levy. The company paid $13.1 billion in tax globally in 2022.

Shell also announced another $4 billion share buyback program that it expects to complete by May and confirmed it would raise its dividend per share by 15% for the fourth quarter.

The company returned $26 billion to shareholders in 2022 through share buybacks and dividend payments.

By comparison, it spent around $21 billion on its low- or zero-carbon businesses last year, or approximately one third of total expenditure, chief financial officer Sinead Gorman told reporters in a call on Thursday.

Of that, about $4 billion was invested into its Renewables and Energy Solutions business, which includes electricity generation, hydrogen production, carbon capture and storage, and the trading of carbon credits.

The unit generated less than 5% of the group’s profits in 2022, highlighting the scale of the challenge facing Shell as it tries to shift away from oil and gas towards lower-carbon energy.

The company drew criticism from climate activists on Thursday for not moving quickly enough.

“Shell can’t claim to be in transition as long as investments in fossil fuels dwarf investments in renewables,” Mark van Baal, founder of shareholder activist group Follow This, said in a statement.

“The bulk of Shell’s investments remain tied to fossil fuel businesses because the company doesn’t have a target to slash its total CO2 emissions this decade.”

Shell invested about $12.4 billion into its integrated gas and oil exploration units in 2022.

Asked whether Shell could invest more into renewable energy, Sawan said he believed the company was “finding the right balance in our capital allocation.”

He said Shell was on track to cut emissions from its own operations in half by 2030 compared with 2016 levels. Over 90% of Shell’s emissions come from the use of its products by customers. It plans to reduce these so-called “scope 3” emissions by 20% by 2030.

Shell plans to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050.

Greenpeace activists are staging a protest this week on a Shell-contracted vessel in the Atlantic Ocean carrying equipment to redevelop the Penguins oil and gas field in the North Sea. The environmental group said in a statement that the protest aims to “highlight the worldwide climate devastation caused by Shell.”

In a statement shared with CNN, a Shell spokesperson said the activists had boarded “a moving vessel in rough conditions” and are “causing real safety concerns.”

“Projects like Penguins … help reduce the UK’s reliance on higher carbon and costlier energy imports. Locally-produced, responsible oil and gas production is critical for UK energy security and entirely consistent with a net zero pathway,” the spokesperson added.

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