The five largest oil companies in the Western continent reported a combined total profits of nearly $200 billion in 2022, raising calls for the government to impose more stringent windfall taxes.
TotalEnergies, the big French oil company, announced its full year profits of $36.2 billion, which doubled last year’s total due to the surge of fossil fuel’s prices after the Russia invasion of Ukraine.
The result showed that TotalEnergies has joined with the supermajors Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell in recording a significant increase in annual profits. Earlier, Exxon reached a historic high of $56 billion in 2022 for the Western oil industry.
Overall, the five major companies reported combined profits of $196.3 billion last year, more than the economic output of most countries.
The energy giants used their revenue to reward shareholders with high dividends and share buybacks.
“You may have noticed that Big Oil just reported record profits,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. “Last year, they made $200 billion in the midst of a global energy crisis. It’s outrageous.”
Biden said U.S. oil majors invested “too little of that profit” to ramp up domestic production to help keep gas prices down. “Instead, they used those record profits to buy back their own stock, rewarding their CEOs and shareholders.”
Biden proposed quadrupling tax increase on corporate stock buybacks to motivate long-term investments, confirming that the giant companies still make a considerable profit.
A secretary general of human rights group Amnesty International described a large sum of profits made by Big Oil as “patently unjustifiable” and “an unmitigated disaster.” She called out the government to adequately tax these companies to use the proceeds in supporting people struggling with rising cost of living.