ExxonMobil has reported a record $19.7 billion in quarterly profits — smashing its previous quarterly record of $17.9 billion last June — in an announcement which is sure to generate outrage among Westerners struggling to cope with soaring energy bills and a general cost of living crisis.
Rival US company Chevron and France's TotalEnergies have recorded similar astronomical quarterly profits – of $11.2 billion and $9.9 billion respectively which is roughly double what each company made this time last year — while UK-based company Shell reported its second-highest ever quarterly profit of $9.5 billion.
Fossil fuel companies' profits have shot up this year as a consequence of increased global energy demand as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as limited supply precipitated by Western sanctions on Russia after the latter's invasion of Ukraine. US companies, in particular, have benefited enormously as a result of Western sanctions: the US is now the world's leading exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG), with 71% of its LNG exports going to the EU and the UK.
'More money than God'
The reported earnings are expected to induce condemnations from many Western leaders, and will likely lead to an increase in calls to implement an effective windfall tax on fossil fuel companies in order to help consumers meet soaring energy bills.
In June, US President Joe Biden criticised ExxonMobil for making "more money than God," and called on the company to "start investing" and "paying [its] taxes."
Similarly, last month President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that "these [fossil fuel] companies are making revenues they never accounted for, they never even dreamt of." She added: "In these times, profits must be shared and channelled to those who need it most."
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Following von der Leyen's pronouncements, the EU announced a windfall tax on energy companies' profits, which European officials claim will raise up to €140 billion.
However, because of various legal technicalities many companies may well avoid having to pay the tax. Shell, for instance, recently claimed that it expects to avoid paying a similar UK windfall tax until 2023.