British oil giant Shell on Thursday posted its highest-ever annual profit, bolstered by soaring fossil fuel prices and robust demand since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.
Shell reported adjusted earnings of $39.9 billion for the full-year 2022. This comfortably surpasses the $28.4 billion in 2008 which Shell said was the firm’s previous annual record and is more than double the firm’s full-year 2021 profit of $19.29 billion.
Analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected full-year 2022 net profit to come in at $38.3 billion.
For the final quarter of 2022, Shell reported adjusted earnings of $9.8billion.
Shell announced a $4 billion share buyback program, which is expected to be completed by its first-quarter 2023 results — due out by early May — and a 15% dividend per share increase for the fourth quarter.
“Our results in Q4 and across the full year demonstrate the strength of Shell’s differentiated portfolio, as well as our capacity to deliver vital energy to our customers in a volatile world,” Shell CEO Wael Sawan said in a statement.
“We believe that Shell is well positioned to be the trusted partner through the energy transition. As we continue to put our Powering Progress strategy into action, we will build on our core strengths, further simplify the organisation and focus on performance,” he added.
The results follow in the footsteps of historic annual earnings for U.S. oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron, with the West’s largest oil and gas companies expected to rake in combined profits of nearly $200 billion for the year, according to Refinitiv data.
The extraordinary scale of the industry’s earnings has renewed criticism and sparked calls for a Big Oil windfall profit tax.
Shell said last month that it expected to take a $2 billion hit for the final three months of 2022 as a result of new taxes in the European Union and the U.K.
Shares of the London-listed company are up around 1% year-to-date.
Shell, which is aiming to become a net-zero emissions business by 2050, is reportedly set to see capital expenditures in its Renewables and Energy Solutions unit hit a record high in 2022.
In recent quarters, Big Oil executives have defended their rising profits and said the significant disruption to global energy markets due to the war in Ukraine has reaffirmed the importance of helping to solve “the energy trilemma.”
According to a statement to investors from BP CEO Bernard Looney late last year, this refers to “secure, affordable and lower carbon energy.”
Climate campaigners and activist shareholders have been sharply critical.
“We must all call out profiteering like this,” said Alice Harrison, fossil fuels campaign leader at advocacy group Global Witness.
Harrison described the historic revenues for energy giants as “disgraceful,” given that “much of this money is being made at the expense of the millions of people who have been pushed into poverty because of the skyrocketing cost of gas.”
U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil on Tuesday reported a $56 billion profit for 2022, marking a historic high for the Western oil industry, while Chevron on Friday posted a record $36.5 billion profit for last year.
British oil major BP is scheduled to report full-year earnings on Feb .7, with France’s TotalEnergies slated to follow on Feb. 8.