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Gas and oil giant profits condemned as ‘insult to millions’ facing a freezing winter

CENTRICA and Shell’s eye-watering profits are an insult to millions of working people facing a freezing winter, trade unionists and campaigners said today.

British Gas owner Centrica’s half-year profit has soared fivefold to £1.3 billion, boosted by the rocketing energy prices battering households.

The company revealed that it would start paying dividends to shareholders for the first time since 2020 and that its upstream business, which includes North Sea operations, saw adjusted operating profit reach £906 million in the first six months of the year — an increase of more than 1,100 per cent.

Asked if he should use some of this cash to help customers who are facing bills of more than £3,800 from January, chief executive Chris O’Shea replied that by running British Gas prudently, he is saving customers more money.

Shell’s adjusted earnings hit the record high of nearly $11.5bn (£9.5bn) in the second quarter of the year.

The price of the oil it sells has risen from $62.53 a barrel a year ago to $101.42 on Friday.

Over the same period, the price of gas rose from $4.31 to $13.85 per 1,000 standard cubic feet.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “These eye-watering profits are an insult to the millions of working people struggling to get by because of soaring energy bills.

“Energy bills are rising 23 times faster than wages. We need to hold down profits and boost wages.

“It’s time working people got their fair share of the wealth they create, starting with real action to bring bills down.”

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Sana Yusuf said: “Clearly, not everyone is struggling with the energy crisis.

“These bumper profits will be greeted with disbelief by the millions of people across the UK who are faced with rocketing energy prices.”

Ms Yusuf called on the government to impose a tougher windfall tax on energy firms and for the bulk of profits to be used to insulate homes and help cash-strapped households with winter heating bills.

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband blasted both Tory leadership contenders for “living on another planet when it comes to the cost-of-living emergency.”

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer said that it was “simply disgusting” that the government allowed energy giants to “funnel billions to shareholders” while there was a real risk of more people freezing to death in their homes this winter.

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