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Calls grow for wealth tax on oil firm profits

CAMPAIGNERS demanded a wealth tax on the energy sector yesterday as oil giant Shell revealed record first-quarter profits, just days after rival BP also announced bumper earnings.

Shell announced that during the first three months of 2022 it had tripled its profits from £2.5 billion to a staggering £7.2bn — equivalent to £80 million per day.

As reported in the Star, fellow FTSE 100 firm BP unveiled on Tuesday its highest quarterly underlying profits for more than a decade, at £5bn.

It comes as calls mount from campaigners and Labour for a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas firms to help ease the soaring cost-of-living crisis.

The sector is reaping the benefits of rocketing oil and gas prices, which have been pushed to record levels by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be keeping a windfall tax “under review” but ministers have so far ruled one out, on the grounds it would harm investment.

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden argued that strong financial performance was “crucial for Shell to play a leading role in the energy transition.”

But Labour shadow climate change and net zero secretary Ed Miliband said: “Another day, another oil and gas company making billions in profits, and yet another day when the government shamefully refuses to act with a windfall tax to bring down bills.

“The government’s priority is protecting oil and gas giants, not supporting the British people.”

Fuel Poverty Action spokeswoman Ruth London told the Star a windfall tax was needed “to pay for Energy For All — a free band of energy to ensure that everyone can keep the heat and the lights on.”

“We need to end the massive subsidies that taxpayers are now donating to companies like Shell.”

Greenpeace UK oil and gas campaigner Philip Evans said: “By using a big chunk of the bloated profits that Shell, BP and others are raking in to make homes warmer, more energy-efficient and kitted out with heat pumps, the government could start to really tackle the climate and cost-of-living crises simultaneously.”

Left Labour MPs slammed the profiteering of the energy companies.

Labour’s Barry Gardner blasted a suggestion by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week that the oil giants couldn’t afford to pay a windfall tax, saying their profits were made by “charging us more.”

Claudia Webbe, Labour MP for Leicester East, said it was “pure greed” from the energy companies and nobody should “believe for a second when these energy companies say they cannot afford to lower prices.”

And Labour’s Zarah Sultana hit out at the Tories letting Shell “pay zero tax on North Sea oil and gas production last year.” 

In fact, Ms Sultana said, “the Treasury paid them £92m.”

“Let’s use a windfall tax on these companies to slash energy bills,” Ms Sultana added.

Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths highlighted that “Shell CEO Ben van Deurden’s pay is 57 times higher than his company’s average wage.

“We not only need a windfall tax on oil and gas super-profits, but a wealth tax on the super-rich and nationalisation of the whole rip-off energy sector.”


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