7th October 2022, London – Responding to news that the UK government has opened a new licensing round for fossil fuel companies, that could include the likes of BP and Shell, to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea, Alice Harrison, Fossil Fuel Campaign Leader at Global Witness, said:

“The immediate priority for this Government should be supporting UK citizens facing crippling energy bills while also transitioning to renewable energy sources, to protect both our climate and consumers from an energy crisis that’s caused by fossil fuel dependency. Instead, Liz Truss’ government is gifting a new set of licenses to an industry that’s already making obscene profits from the skyrocketing cost of gas, so that it can dig us even deeper into this mess.

“It could not be clearer that this is a government on the side of the likes of UK oil and gas giants BP and Shell. It’s time to break these companies’ stranglehold over our politicians so that decisions can be made in the interest of people and planet, rather than to make rich polluters even richer.”

In the three months between April and June this year, Shell made $11.5 billion (nearly £10 billion) in profit. Shell investors meanwhile received $7.4bn in the first quarter of 2022 and were expected to receive another $6bn as part of a share buyback scheme and $1.8bn in dividends. In August BP announced profits of nearly $8.5 billion between April and June this year, up from the $6.2 billion recorded in the first three months of 2022.

Global Witness is calling on the UK Government to first and foremost support those struggling to pay their bills, but it must also immediately invest in clean renewable energy and home insulation, to bring an end to the cycle of soaring energy prices from which fossil fuel dictators and millionaires stand to benefit most.