Big global gas companies rake in $65 billion profits whilst citizens struggle to pay bills

29th November 2021 – The world’s biggest gas companies have enjoyed a huge leap in profits, to the tune of $65 billion and up 24% on the same period in 2019, whilst citizens suffer with soaring gas bills, according to new analysis of the companies Q3 financial results, following the publication of Gazprom’s results today.

Nine of the 15 global gas firms analysed by Global Witness boasted higher profits during July to September 2021 (Q3) compared to the previous six months of the year, as well as against the same period in 2019. Much higher increases were made relative to 2020 although this is considered an unfair comparison due to COVID lockdowns.

The analysis of the top 20 gas producing companies’ Q3 profits, for which figures are available include:

  • $7.8 billion for Gazprom, up 121% since on the same period in 2019. Russia’s two other gas exporters, Novatek and Rosneft, together made $6.3 billion posting big jumps over the year.
  • American companies did well too, with Exxon making nearly $7 billion and Chevron making over $6 billion.
  • Norway’s Equinor, which is the largest supplier of gas to the UK, made $1.4 billion in Q3, over 200 percent more than in Q3 2019.
  • $4.8 billion for Total, up 67% on Q3 2019.

During the same period citizens all over Europe, and increasingly the US, have seen their home energy bills soar, amidst a sharp rise in the price of gas. 

  • In the UK, gas prices for customers have jumped nearly 30% in the past year and are driving extraordinary inflation.
  • In the EU, Q3 consumer gas prices jumped 8% compared to Q2. 
  • In the US, customers are predicted by pay 30% more this winter.

Jonathan Gant, Senior Gas Campaigner at Global Witness, said:

“These eye watering profits made by already extremely wealthy gas companies show that, whilst not of our making, it is citizens who are being forced to pay for the energy crisis. Thousands of people across Europe, and soon the US, who have already found it hard to pay bills are being forced to make the stark choice between heating and eating. Meanwhile the largest fossil fuel companies that are driving the climate crisis are lining their pockets.”

“All too often people have little say over what energy they use to warm their homes and cook their meals, compounding the unfairness in the rise in gas prices. Many such citizens will rightly feel it is deeply unfair that they are feeling the pinch whilst big fossil fuel firms enjoy huge profits.”

“Those companies continuing to record large profits are also amongst the world’s biggest polluters. There is something very wrong when the companies that are disproportionately responsible for the climate crisis also find themselves reaping the benefits of a deep societal inequality. It’s time to rethink how we do things, starting with a phase out of fossil fuels and push towards clean, renewable energy that can provide both stability and low costs for consumers.”

The companies reviewed are the world’s top producers of gas and will only get bigger – investing over $82 billion next year exploring for fossil fuels and building new wells. Their profits stand in stark contrast to the companies that buy gas and supply it to consumers. Facing the same high prices as consumers, to date 21 local gas suppliers have gone bankrupt in the UK alone.

In response to the ongoing energy crisis that is impacting millions all over Europe and soon America, Global Witness is calling on governments to accelerate investment in clean renewable forms of energy that can both protect the planet and provide stability for consumers.

In much of the world building renewable energy sources like wind and solar is cheaper than running existing gas or coal fired plants. And according to one study all of Europe’s heating needs could be met by renewable sources if governments increased subsidies to the sector by €70 billion, almost the same as the biggest gas companies made in just three months in 2021.