Brent crude, a benchmark for global oil prices, averaged $102.23 a barrel during the first quarter, 67% higher than during the same period last year.
The British media is filled with stories about people forced to skip meals or go into debt as they struggle to heat their homes after a 54% increase in household energy prices took effect April 1. Even before those increases, inflation accelerated to a 30-year high of 7% in March.
Shell rival BP on Tuesday reported its highest quarterly profit in more than a decade. The London-based company said adjusted earnings rose to $6.2 billion in the first quarter, from $2.6 billion in the same period last year.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, criticized politicians for “grandstanding” with calls for a windfall profits tax, pointing out that Shell last month announced plans to invest 25 billion pounds ($31 billion) in renewable energy in the U.K. BP made a commitment to invest 18 billion pounds in U.K. energy this week.
“That’s a lot more than a windfall tax would raise and would probably be better spent,” Hewson said.
Shell said Thursday that it would take a $3.9 billion charge to cover the cost of exiting investments in Russia, which it pledged to do after the invasion of Ukraine.
First-quarter net income, which includes such one-time items, rose to $7.3 billion from $5.8 billion in the same period last year.
“The war in Ukraine is first and foremost a human tragedy, but it has also caused significant disruption to global energy markets and has shown that secure, reliable and affordable energy simply cannot be taken for granted,” CEO Ben van Beurden said in a statement. “We have been engaging with governments, our customers and suppliers to work through the challenging implications and provide support and solutions where we can.”