BP boss offers £400 charitable donation as millions face fuel poverty

Chief executive Bernard Looney's salary this year reached £1.4m

BP's Bernard Looney made the offer after it was revealed he was unaware the UK government was offering direct financial assistance to help families pay their soaring energy bills this winter. Reuters
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BP chief executive Bernard Looney announced a £400 ($487) charitable donation after the company posted $8.45 billion in profits on Tuesday.

Mr Looney announced the donation, which will come from his own private funds and be given to an unknown entity, after it surfaced in an interview with The Times that he was unaware the UK government was offering direct financial assistance to help families pay their soaring energy bills this winter.

The oil executive, whose salary this year is £1.4 million, has little need of the extra funds that will go to every household in the country.

But the incident is nonetheless of prime importance for a company such as BP.

The surge in profit reported by the British company on Tuesday, which followed similar windfalls for other major oil and gas firms last week, intensifies the political debate about a crisis in the cost of living driven in large part by higher energy prices.

Of the $8.45bn in profits BP posted for the second quarter, $3.5bn will be used to buy back the company’s shares and the dividend will rise by 10 per cent.

Those handsome rewards for investors sit uncomfortably alongside the pain that will be experienced by many British households in the coming months.

Analysts at Cornwall Insight said they expected a typical household’s energy bill to be well over £3,000 until at least the end of 2023 — an unprecedented increase that would plunge millions into poverty.

“I understand that people are under intense financial pressure here in the UK and across the world,” Mr Looney said.

“We can all acknowledge that it’s a very, very difficult situation. So the question is, how can we help?”

BP is working flat out to help solve the energy crisis, he said.

This could be the key political issue for whoever becomes the UK’s next prime minister.

One of the candidates, former chancellor the exchequer Rishi Sunak, already imposed a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to help finance support measures for the public.

That will cost BP’s North Sea business about $800m in additional levies until the end of 2025, the company said on Tuesday.

If households require further financial support, the government may need to spend billions of pounds more.

Calls for further taxes on the industry are growing.

“The government must bring in a proper windfall tax on these monster profits,” said Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK

In addition to Mr Looney’s donation, which will be matched by chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss, the company highlighted its plans to invest as much as £18bn into the UK this decade on fossil fuel extraction, renewable energy production and electric-vehicle charging.

Those efforts are set to create thousands of jobs across the country, the company said.

Updated: August 02, 2022, 10:14 PM