London/Brussels, February 21 – Eight fossil fuel companies made more than $220,000 a minute at a minimum in 2021, according to new data presented today by Global Witness. [1]

Taken together, just eight fossil fuel companies – BP, Chevron, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Gazprom, Shell and TotalEnergies – made $119bn in net income in 2021, according to standardised data from Refinitiv.

These bumper profits are in no small part driven by a historic increase in wholesale gas prices that simultaneously caused people’s energy bills to spike across the EU. On average, Greeks had to pay an additional €100 in December alone, and Italians can expect to pay an extra €900 in 2022.

Meanwhile, the priority for most of the companies we looked at has been returning the surplus cash to shareholders through dividends and boosted share buyback schemes, while continuing to invest heavily in oil and gas extraction. [2]

Global Witness is calling on European governments to right this injustice: accelerate the phase out of fossil gas and urgently transition to renewables, which can provide affordability, price stability and a safe climate.

Juliana Gaertner, gas campaigner at Global Witness said: “The picture could not be clearer: our reliance on fossil gas hands record profits to the fossil fuel industry and its shareholders while leaving millions unable to afford to heat their homes.  European governments need to do more to protect the most vulnerable from the brunt of this gas market crisis without locking the continent into a future of ever more expensive, unreliable and climate-wreaking gas. This crisis can be a wake-up call: phase out fossil gas use in our homes and vastly increase investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and renovations.”