Centrica yesterday announced profits of £1.3bn for the first half of the year and BP and Shell have also announced huge profits while consumers face rising energy and petrol prices.
Centrica has blamed increasing wholesale prices, rising taxes and increased energy efficiency for the fact that profits were down 54% at British Gas while BP and Shell have benefitted from rising oil prices.
According to the energy giant, residential customers of British Gas used 18% less gas and 3% less electricity in the first six months of the year. Centrica puts this down to the warm weather in April and the fact that customers are becoming more environmentally aware and conscious of the cost of energy.
Meanwhile British Gas Business saw a fall of 7% in operating profits to £137 million and British Gas made an operating profit of £270 million.
However, Centrica is still going ahead with a 12% rise in payouts to shareholders while consumers face increases in gas and electricity prices. Only this week E.ON increased business electricity prices and others look set to follow suit.
Meanwhile the AA has warned that petrol prices are close to reaching record highs and expect them to go even higher within the next few weeks. This comes after Shell posted profits of £5 billion and BP posted profits of£3.2 billion for April, May and June. Both companies are benefitting from high oil prices, which also affect wholesale energy prices.
In May prices reached a record 137.43p a litre but the AA says prices are now at 136.40p a litre and set to increase further just as people set out on their summer holidays. The AA warns that it’s forcing many motorists off the road and many small filling stations are going out of business.
Many rural drivers are paying even more than this average price and the AA blames speculators for keeping oil prices high. An AA spokesman said “At this rate we could be hitting a new record within a fortnight. That is the worst case scenario. Current pump price rises offer little hope of respite in the near future”.
The same time last year petrol was 19.53p a litre cheaper while diesel was 21.42p cheaper. This is shown in Shell’s profits which have increased by 77% on the same time last year. Shell said it had benefitted from a rise of 49% in oil prices and an improved operating performance.