Strong prices for crude and refined products helped push major international oil company profits to new heights in the second quarter of 2022 — good news for investors and a remarkable turnaround from the Covid-induced woes of just two years ago.
Recovering energy demand and supply disruptions related to Russia’s war on Ukraine kept oil and gas prices in record territory for much of the quarter, prompting backlash from consumers, and rumblings about potential windfall taxes, in US and European markets.
Ongoing Russian aggression gave the majors a ready defence as crucial agents in the quest for energy security in Europe. And in second-quarter announcements, most companies stressed that they are using a share of the profits to help fulfil their climate goals by investing in renewable energy and low-emissions projects — “performing while transforming”, to borrow a phrase from BP chief executive Bernard Looney.
The UK supermajor reported an underlying replacement cost profit of $8.5 billion, up from the first quarter’s $6.2 billion and well ahead of analysts’ expectations. The company raised its quarterly dividend by 10% to 6.006 cents per share and said it is planning a $3.5 billion share buyback later this year.
While listing some promising oil and gas prospects in Brazil, Indonesia and Canada, BP pointed out that is it ramping up its electric vehicle charging capacity and is participating in green hydrogen projects in Australia and Europe, and in offshore wind bid rounds in the Netherlands.
Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden led off his company's second-quarter earnings report with the energy security, energy transition defence, saying the volatile market and climate urgency continue "to present huge challenges for consumers, governments and companies alike”.
Shell posted a record $11.5 billion profit in the second quarter and announced a $6 billion share buyback programme for the quarter. It said shareholder distributions would remain “in excess of 30%” of cash flow from operating activities.
The company’s green energy efforts in the quarter included the final investment decision on the 200-megawatt Holland Hydrogen 1 renewable hydrogen plant in the Netherlands and a solar energy agreement with Air Liquide in Italy.
US supermajor ExxonMobil announced second-quarter earnings of $17.9 billion, up from $5.5 billion in the previous quarter. Shareholder distributions were $7.6 billion for the quarter, including $3.7 billion in dividends.
Chief executive Darren Woods chalked up the eye-watering results to “increased production, higher realisations and tight cost control” and “continued investment in [ExxonMobil’s] advantaged portfolio”, including Guyana, the Permian basin and global liquefied natural gas.
“At the same time, we’re supporting the transition to a lower-emission future, growing our portfolio of opportunities in carbon capture and storage, biofuels and hydrogen,” he said.
Fellow US supermajor Chevron reported earnings of $11.6 billion, or $5.95 per share, in the second quarter, compared with $3.1 billion in the same period last year. The company increased its share buyback guidance to $15 billion for the entire year.
“We more than doubled investment compared to last year to grow both traditional and new energy business lines,” said chief executive Mike Wirth.
The company’s Permian production was up more than 15% over 2021, he said, while highlighting the recent sanction of the $1.6 billion Ballymore project in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico as well as its partnership in the planned Bayou Bend CCS hub offshore Texas.
France’s TotalEnergies reported adjusted net income of $9.8 billion along with a $3.5 billion impairment charge “related mainly to the potential impact of international sanctions on the value of its Novatek stake”, chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said.
The company raised its dividend to €0.69 (70 US cents) per share, up 5% year-on-year, and authorised a previously announced share buyback of $2 billion.
Shortly after its second-quarter results were out, TotalEnergies said it will participate in a competitive tender to develop two floating windfarms in the Mediterranean Sea as part of a consortium with Corio Generation and Qair. The projects offshore France would each have capacity of about 250 megawatts.
Norway’s Equinor reported adjusted earnings of $17.6 billion and $5 billion after tax in the second quarter. The company announced a cash dividend of 20 cents per share and an increase in extraordinary cash dividend from 20 cents to 50 cents, along with a revised share buyback programme of $6 billion for the year.
Equinor chief executive Anders Opedal said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine impacted already tight energy markets and has created an energy crisis with high prices affecting people and all sectors of society. Equinor puts its best effort into securing safe and reliable deliveries of energy to Europe, whilst continuing to invest in the energy transition.”
Claudio Descalzi, chief executive of Eni, said the Italian major “moved fast to secure new energy supplies” during the quarter, including its entry into Qatar’s North Field East venture, “part of the world’s largest LNG project”.
Eni reported adjusted earnings of €5.8 billion, up 13% from the first quarter and more than double the same period in 2021.
The company raised its 2022 share buyback for the year to €2.4 billion.
“While maximising our efforts on energy security, we continue to execute our decarbonisation strategy,” Descalzi said, noting that its renewable energy arm, Plenitude, was on track to have 2 gigawatts capacity by the end of the year.
In June, Eni said it was postponing a Plenitude initial public offering due to weak market conditions but Descalzi said the IPO “remains our intention”.
US major ConocoPhillips, meanwhile, highlighted its aim to continue expanding its presence in the LNG sector, as it reported a net income of $5.2 billion for the second quarter, more than doubling its net income of $2.1 billion in the same period last year.