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Shell and BP should plough every spare penny back into the North Sea

The Telegraph

Shell and BP should plough every spare penny back into the North Sea

Oil giants should be putting every spare penny into the North Sea, alongside green energy projects, instead of shareholder windfalls


“Another day, another oil and gas company making billions in profits,” decried Ed Miliband after Shell’s latest profit gusher. Yes, and another predictable call for a windfall tax from opposition politicians desperate to win votes.

As bandwagons go, there have been plenty of opportunists keen to clamber aboard this one, in a week when local elections are taking place up and down the country.

Still, Shell and BP only have themselves to blame. It’s not that a windfall tax is necessarily justified. It isn’t. Ironically, by neglecting Britain’s energy security, a succession of short-sighted political figures, including some of those now bleating about the injustice of today’s profiteering, have probably done more to help create the current energy crisis than the industry itself.

A one-off raid on the profits of “big oil” won’t do much to alleviate the cost-of-living squeeze, either. Yes, some of the money could be spent to “make homes warmer, more energy efficient and kitted out with heat pumps”, as Greenpeace argues, but only at the margins on Labour’s calculations.

Political pressure isn’t suddenly going to go away. On the contrary, with oil prices expected to remain high when summer comes around and the next energy price cap rise sends household bills into another stratosphere, the Government may be forced into a humiliating climbdown.

As well as neutralising demands for a windfall tax, a flurry of fresh investment would help to secure the country’s energy supply.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to counter their status as the nation’s favourite political whipping boys by freeing Britain from the tyranny of global markets.

Shell and BP should seize the initiative before it is too late.


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