Sunday, August 7, 2022

British Gas owners’ profits quintuple as energy bills soar

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British Gas owner Centrica has seen operating profit fivefold to £1.34 billion as energy bills soar.

The company’s profits for the six months to the end of June were a significant increase in profits compared to the £262m recorded in the same period last year.

The energy giant announced it would reintroduce its dividend to 1p per share this year after suspending it for three years.

The group’s chief executive, Chris O’Shea, reportedly claimed that Centrica’s profits were not due to customers’ rising energy bills.

Oil major Shell also reported record profits of $11.5 billion, doubling profits in a single year amid rising energy prices.

Speaking to TalkTV, former Energy UK chief Angela Knight said there was “a big question mark over those who are making extraordinary gains from an extraordinary world situation”.

Miatta Fahnbulleh, chief executive of the New Economics Foundation, also wrote on Twitter: “Energy company #Centrica has made an extra £1billion in profits in the last 6 months while millions of people cannot afford to heat their homes.

“Our economic system currently allows that, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Chris O’Shea, Group Chief Executive, said Centrica will continue to support its customers “through the most challenging energy crisis in living memory.”

He added: “We are very aware of the difficult environment many customers are in and we will continue to support them.

“We are investing in our customers and colleagues, creating at least 500 additional service points in the UK at British Gas Energy and 1,000 new engineering apprenticeships in the UK, while providing grants through the British Gas Energy Support Fund to help customers pay for their energy Bills.

“We have a clear strategy to continue improving operational performance, growing our business and positioning ourselves to deliver net zero at a price that helps the many, not the few.

“We are committed to investing in the energy transition to improve energy security in our core markets.”

Oil major Shell also reported record profits of $11.5 billion, doubling profits in a single year amid rising energy prices.

This is up from $5.5 billion in April-June 2021, representing a $6 billion increase in earnings, and up from $9.1 billion in Q1 2022.

The oil giant posted a fourteen-fold increase in quarterly earnings earlier this year, which had reignited calls for a windfall tax to ease the burden on struggling families amid the deepening cost-of-living crisis.

British Gas’ operating profits fell 43 per cent to £98m, compared with £172m this time last year, before the energy crisis really hit.

Energy bills are set to triple as UK households face an “all-powerful blow” to living standards, economists have warned.

The average household could face an energy bill of £500 in January 2023, with a forecast annual price cap of £3,850, far exceeding the already dire forecasts of rising bills made earlier this year.

Utilities consultancy BFY Group’s forecast came as Russia took further steps to cut its gas supplies to Europe, further strangling the market.

The country has drastically reduced gas supplies to several European countries since the war against Ukraine. The bitter conflict has put pressure on global food, gasoline and household energy costs.

“If you look back at the same time last year, your bill is probably three times what it was in January,” said Gemma Berwick, senior consultant at BFY LatestPageNews.

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