Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged BP and Shell chiefs to keep investing in wind farms and hydrogen to drive down energy bills in the UK.
Asked why he will not introduce a windfall tax on the companies’ bumper profits, he said it is better they invest the money.
“I had the head of Shell in yesterday and the head of BP and I’ve talked to them both,” Mr Johnson said during a visit to a school in his London constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip today.
He added: “Our message to them is very, very clear. It’s ‘guys, you know, this is a moment when we need you, as a country, to invest massively in clean, green renewables, in the stuff that is going to make a difference to people’s energy prices’.
“What we don’t want to do is make the same mistakes as previous governments…, fail to invest in our energy supply.
“So that’s the message we’re giving to the big energy companies.”
‘Put it into wind farms, put it into hydrogen’
The PM continued: “It’s frankly better for them to take that cash, put it into wind farms, put it into hydrogen, put it into stuff that will make a big difference to our ability to cope with the global energy price spike, and above all make sure this country is protected in the future so we have more long-term energy security.”
Energy prices have rocketed in the past year and last month the price cap was increased by 54% for the average UK household.
Bills are likely to rise even further in October when the price cap is next revisited.
Huge increase in energy company profits
Meanwhile, high oil prices have led to massive increases in the profits of energy companies such as BP and Shell.
On Tuesday, BP reported underlying replacement cost profits – its preferred measure – had more than doubled to £5 billion.
Shadow climate change and net-zero secretary Ed Miliband has urged the PM to introduce a windfall tax to help cut energy bills, saying not to do so is “deeply wrong, unfair and tells you all you need to know about whose side this government is on”.
Mr Milliband added: “It’s not the British people.”
Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said his company had a “very strong commitment to investing in the UK”, where it plans to spend between £20bn and £25bn during the next 10 years.
Mr van Beurden added: “But I should also say that, if you talk about these types of investment levels, they do require a stable and predictable financial outlook.
“It does require stability of policy and everything else.”
And yesterday Shell posted record £7.2bn quarterly profits, thanks to soaring oil and gas prices.
Its profits haul for the first three months of the year was nearly three times the £2.5bn reported a year earlier.
Shell has said it intends to spend up to £25bn in the UK energy system this decade.
Energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng recently published a letter saying the sector must show “in the coming weeks” how it will reinvest profits and double down on investments in the clean energy transition.