Europe’s two largest energy companies Shell and TotalEnergies reported profits of more than US$9 billion in the third quarter, though Shell’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) division struggled to capture the benefits of high fuel prices.
The strong earnings were likely to intensify calls in Britain and the European Union for further windfall taxes on energy companies to help households cope with gas and power bills.
LNG prices have soared this year as Moscow progressively cut piped natural gas supplies to Europe, which heavily depended on Russian imports.
Western sanctions on Russia, which is among the world’s leading oil and gas producers, in response to its invasion of Ukraine in February, helped to drive European gas prices to an all-time high in August.
They have fallen heavily in recent weeks as Europe has filled gas storage and temperatures have been unusually mild, but prices are still higher than a year ago.
The world’s biggest LNG trader Shell missed some of the benefit of the price rise after a fall in production following strikes at Australia’s Prelude site. It also said its trading was hit by “substantial differences between paper and physical realisations in a volatile and dislocated market”.
Its headline profit in its integrated gas unit was down almost 40% on the previous quarter.
Overall profit of US$9.5 billion was slightly below last quarter’s record. Shell still decided to increase its dividend by 15% as it prepares for Wael Sawan to take the helm from Ben van Beurden next year.