In 2022, the major oil companies saw a record-breaking profit of $219 billion, more than double the previous year’s profits. This allowed BP, Chevron, Equinor, Exxon Mobil, Shell and TotalEnergies to pay their investors an unprecedented $110 billion in dividends and share buybacks.
The sharp rise in oil and gas prices and the Russian supply cut in Europe prompted oil companies to increase their spending on fossil fuel production and security of supply. TotalEnergies’ executive president, Patrick Pouyanne, stated that the global context was very favorable for energy companies, with the relaxation of the COVID-19 measures in China driving demand in 2023.
The energy sector’s climate ambitions have also been reshaped by the events of the year. BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, reversed his plans to reduce the company’s oil and gas production and carbon emissions by 2030, citing the need for energy that is both safe and affordable.
Overall, the record profits of the oil companies in 2022 have provided them with the opportunity to rethink their energy transition strategies, as well as to increase their spending on oil and gas projects. This has led to calls for governments to impose extraordinary taxes on the industry to help consumers face energy costs.