Amid war and a cost of living crisis, the oil firm Shell are making a killing. At over £7bn, the firm’s quarterly profits are their highest ever. However, the windfall comes as oil supplies are disrupted by the war in Ukraine, and bills have soared for ordinary people.
This is despite Russia, a major global exporter of oil, being hit by sanctions. All firms, including Shell, have reduced operations there. Campaigning groups like Greenpeace have already called for a special windfall tax on the giant’s profits.
Others took to Twitter to air their views on the firm’s unprecedented quarter – including trade unionists, who called it “pure greed”:
Shell Petrol’s profits have just tripled to £7.3 billion in just 13 weeks.
£80 million pound profit every single day.
How dare politicians call this a cost of living crisis when it’s plain to see that it’s pure greed.
— Howard Beckett (@BeckettUnite) May 5, 2022
One economist called for a 100% tax on Shell’s massive profits:
If you’re being polite, you can call this pure economic rent. If you’re not being polite, it’s profiteering.
The fairest and most efficient tax to levy on profits like this is 100%, incidentally.https://t.co/bXnovWdSAu
— James Meadway (@meadwaj) May 5, 2022
A professor of accounting said that the government had done nothing to intervene. This meant the gains were nothing short of profiteering:
Shell profits triple to $9.13bn (£7.3bn) in the first three months of the year.
Cost of producing gas/oil hasn’t changed, selling price has.
Corporate profiteering = inflation = cost of living crisis.
Govt doing nothing to break up the cartels or check profiteering.
— Prem Sikka (@premnsikka) May 5, 2022
Meanwhile, a Labour MP suggested that the energy market was rigged in favour of the rich:
We are being ripped off.
The energy market only works for the wealthy.
— Jon Trickett MP (@jon_trickett) May 5, 2022
Having a good war?
Another social media user called for a tax to pay for people’s energy bills. They said Shell was “having a good war”:
Shell profits 7.25bl for 3 months of the year. Apparently there is an energy crisis?! 🤣🤣🤣. Someone is having a good war. We need to tax these firms to pay for ppls energy bills.
— Glostermeteor 🔶 (@Glostermeteor) May 5, 2022
Even the editor of the Financial Times said an exceptional tax in a time of conflict was justified:
Shell made $9bn profits in the first quarter of 2022, alone. Case for a windfall tax to offset exceptional energy bills unanswerable. Exceptional times like war require exceptional government intervention
— Lionel Barber (@lionelbarber) May 5, 2022
Another Twitter user quipped that Shell must have only eaten cheaper brands to make such a fortune. This was a reference to Tory suggestions that people reduce the quality of their food in the cost-of-living crisis:
Shell’s profits triple to over $7 billion, probably because they just eat supermarket own-brand food
— Toby Earle 🇺🇦 (@TobyonTV) May 5, 2022
Helpfully, someone else pointed out that Boris Johnson had already expressed his view on oil firm profits. Johnson previously told the BBC that energy giants “don’t want” a windfall tax – huge surprise there.
Shell has reported profits of £7.25bn in the 1st 3 months of the year & BP reported £4.9bn for the same period
Boris Johnson says the oil & gas companies “don’t want a windfall tax”
— Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 (@Haggis_UK) May 5, 2022
Oil firms are making massive profits while ordinary people are afraid to turn their heating on. Boris’s excuse that big oil doesn’t “want” to pay taxes doesn’t hold water. In theory at least, it’s the job of government to intervene in the public’s interest. There are no excuses not to enforce a windfall tax on Shell’s billions.