ENERGY firms must be nationalised to stop an epidemic of unfettered profiteering, unions demanded today after BP reported its biggest quarterly profit for 14 years.
The energy giant’s bumper underlying profit, which rose to a staggering £6.9 billion between April and June as oil and gas prices soared, are an “insult to families struggling to get by,” the TUC said.
BP’s haul, the second highest for the second quarter in the firm’s history, came as experts predicted that typical annual household energy bills could hit more than £3,600 this winter.
The cost of filling up at the petrol pump and keeping the lights on at home has soared as increased demand for energy after the easing of most Covid-19 restrictions globally has coincided with a drop in supplies from Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.
As well as BP, other firms, including Shell, Equinor, TotalEnergies and British Gas owner Centrica which have not faced extra extraction costs, have also reported bumper takings.
BP boss Bernard Looney claimed that he was “backing Britain” by “investing” £18bn in this country over the next decade.
However, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:
Every family should get a fair price for the energy they need, but with energy bills rising much faster than wages, these profits are an insult to families struggling to get by.
Ministers must do more to get wages rising across the economy and we should bring energy retail firms into public ownership so we can reduce bills for basic energy needs.
Unite union leader Sharon Graham said:
People will be confounded by the latest profits announced by BP.
The British economy does not work for workers and their families. Britain’s real crisis isn’t rising prices, it’s an epidemic of unfettered profiteering.
Cat Hobbs, director of campaign group We Own It, said:
Oil and gas giants recording record profits at the same time as the rest of us are wondering how we will heat our houses throughout winter is adding insult to injury.
She told the Morning Star:
We need a real windfall tax on these super-profits, but we need to go further too.
The government should commit to setting up a publicly owned energy supply company alongside a state-owned renewables company, as is the norm across Europe.
This could permanently bring bills down and lead the transition to the clean, green future that we need.
Labour, which, under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership, has resisted calls for renationalisation of key industries, warned that “people are worried sick” about soaring costs, with energy consultancy firm Cornwall Insight predicting a rise in the annual energy price cap to £3,359 in October and £3,616 from January.
Tory minsters finally bowed to political pressure earlier this year and announced a £400 discount on household energy bills funded by a 25 per cent windfall tax on oil and gas giants’ profits made in Britain.
But the tax only applies from May 26, so BP will not be required to pay the levy on most of its second-quarter profits and a new “investment allowance” will nearly double the tax relief available to already mega-rich energy firms.
Condemning the “totally wrong” compromise, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves claimed that Labour would “bring down energy bills for good with a green energy sprint for home-grown power and a 10-year warm homes plan to cut bills for 19 million cold, draughty homes.”
Scottish Greens environment spokesman Mark Ruskell called for a “meaningful windfall tax and a major investment in renewable energy so that we can finally break the link between fossil fuel prices and household bills.”