BP has recorded yet another significant quarterly profit, with the oil and gas giant posting $5 billion (£4 billion) over the first three months of 2023.
The profit figure - which was actually significantly down on the previous first quarter total of $6.2 billion - has reignited a debate over whether fossil fuel firms should face a tougher windfall tax. Labour’s Shadow Energy and Net Zero Secretary, Ed Miliband, said BP’s profits were “unearned” and “at the expense of British families”.
It comes just days after a stormy annual meeting, where the oil firm’s board was criticised by activist investors for expanding BP’s fossil fuels operation despite major concerns about the climate crisis. CEO Bernard Looney said the company was doing enough to meet international climate targets.
The meeting was also controversial as it saw Mr Looney receive a multi-million pound pay package. It comes as workers across the UK are facing real-terms pay cuts due to the near-record inflation rate, as well as high energy bills.
So who owns BP, how much does its CEO make and how much profit have they made? Here’s everything you need to know.
Who owns BP?
BP, also known as British Petroleum, is a British oil and gas company, with its headquarters based in London. As of 2020 it is the fourth-largest oil company in the world after PetroChina, Sinopec, and Saudi Aramco.
BP is owned by thousands of different shareholders, with shares traded publicly on the London Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Germany. According to CNN, the largest shareholders are Arrowstreet Capital, SSgA Funds Management and Fisher Asset Management - although they all own under 1% of all BP’s shares.
These shareholders vote to appoint the corporation’s board every year, and also have the power to dictate how much they get paid. It means environmental activist groups, like Follow This, have bought up a shareholding so that they can disrupt these meetings in a bid to push BP down a greener path - albeit with mixed results, so far.
What is BP’s share price?
Given the good news for BP’s bottom line, you might expect that its share price has benefitted. However, its stock has actually gone down since its stormy general meeting in late April.
Shares have gone from trading at almost £5.40 to a little over £5 since Tuesday (25 April). This amounts to a near 7% hit to its share price.
What is Bernard Looney’s net worth?
Bernard Looney is the current CEO of BP. The 53-year-old, who is originally from Kerry, Ireland, has spent his entire career working for the company after joining in 1991.
He worked in a number of operational and managerial positions, including in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, Vietnam and the UK North Sea. His appointment as CEO was announced in October 2019, with Looney replacing Bob Dudley in July 2020.
At the latest annual meeting of BP shareholders, Mr Looney was granted a £10 million pay package after the company posted a record $28 billion (£22.5 billion) profit across the whole of 2022. These earnings were largely as a result of soaring oil and gas prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Activist investors and other shareholders angered by the company’s announcement that it would bolster its fossil fuels operation had hoped to prevent this pay hike at the meeting. While they failed to stop it from going through, 18% of the votes cast were against the pay rise - a significant percentage that may make BP think twice about its plans.
We do not know what Bernard Looney’s net worth is, given he is not wealthy enough to appear on lists compiled by Forbes or The Sunday Times. However, his significant pay package means it can be reasonably assumed he is a multi-millionaire.
How much are BP’s profits?
In the first quarter of 2023, i.e. the period running from 1 January to 31 March, BP recorded profits of $5 billion (£4 billion). While this figure was below the $6.2 billion (£5 billion) posted over the same period last year, it remans significantly higher than most of its Q1 profits over the last decade.
Bernard Looney described the news as a "strong performance". Meanwhile, the company said it had seen an "exceptional" performance from gas marketing and trading, and "very strong oil trading". But with energy prices coming back down again after last year’s highs, analysts believe BP’s performance is likely to become less exceptional as the year goes on.
Given it makes most of its money internationally, BP is only likely to pay out a small figure in windfall tax - the Energy Profits Levy having been introduced to fund reductions in energy bills here in the UK. It has led the Labour Party to call for the levy to be tightened up so that a freeze could be applied to council tax.
“These enormous profits are the unearned, unexpected windfalls of war. And every excess pound that the energy giants rake in is at the expense of British families,” said Labour’s Shadow Energy and Net Zero Secretary, Ed Miliband. “Yet after all this time, the Tory windfall tax is still full of get out clauses with billions being bunged at oil and gas companies in special subsidies not available in any other part of the energy sector.”
He added that Labour would “bring in a proper windfall tax on oil and gas giants to help freeze council tax this year” because it is “on the side of working people unlike the Conservative Party.” The government has responded by pointing to its current windfall tax, which Chancellor Jeremy Hunt already made more onerous in his autumn statement.