How are oil and gas firms able to make record-breaking profits while millions struggle to pay their bills? From the onset of the Ukraine war, European fossil fuel majors have enjoyed unprecedented access to EU leaders. Thanks to their oversized influence, and capitalising on divisions between EU leaders, they have been able to delay and minimise decisive political action on energy markets, which allowed them to rake in billions in profits. In the name of urgency, they also gained an even stronger role than before in EU decision-making on energy issues, pushing for ever more gas infrastructure and gas-based projects. As a result, we are locked in a spiral of skyrocketing energy prices, corporate profiteering, fossil fuel addiction and climate disaster.
This report finds:
- €78bn in profits up to September 2022 for Shell, TotalEnergies, Eni and Repsol;
- More than 100 meetings between the fossil fuel industry and European Commission leaders since February - that’s one every other day
- Commission President Von der Leyen met several times with oil and gas CEOs while formulating the bloc’s energy response to the Ukraine crisis, where it was warned against “fiddling” with the market and price caps and advised on which measures were “feasible”.
- The fossil fuel industry has avoided having to foot the bill: lobbying to delay and weaken measures coincides with no significant political intervention in energy markets, such as ambitious windfall taxes or price caps, that would reduce their profits;
- The eventual EU “tax” on windfall profits of oil and gas corporations - rebranded as a “solidarity contribution” - looks increasingly like a symbolic measure, full of loopholes, that will not yield the announced billions of euros;
- In addition, the industry has successfully lobbied for massive public support for new gas infrastructure and gas-based technology developments: ENTSO-G proposes 300 new gas projects over the next ten years to respond to the ongoing “emergency”, which will keep up profits as well as people’s energy bills.
- At the request of industry, the EU has set up an ‘Energy Platform Industry Advisory Group’ exclusively made up of Europe’s major gas companies, with a mandate to effectively co-manage the Commission’s plans to get off Russian gas.
- The announced EU “tax” on windfall profits of oil and gas corporations - rebranded as a “solidarity contribution” - looks more and more like a symbolic measure, full of loopholes, that will not yield the announced billions of euros.
- The fossil fuel industry in Italy and France also successfully lobbied for more support for fossil fuel infrastructure, while TotalEnergies avoided a windfall tax.
- EU and US oil and gas lobby groups have also been working with senior Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to push for more domestic gas production and more imports.
Read the report here.