Energy Resources Aotearoa blames Russia-Ukraine war, inflation, supply chain issues on oil companies making record profits

Oil companies are continuing to make record profits while pockets are burning at the pump.

Four of the world's largest oil companies - the UK's Shell, France's TotalEnergies and the US' Exxon Mobil and Chevron - made $51 billion in the last quarter - almost double the same time the previous year.

At home, BP New Zealand recorded a massive $230 million profit last year. 

But John Carnegie, from Energy Resources Aotearoa, says the Russia-Ukraine war, inflation, and supply chain issues were to blame - not greedy companies. 

"I think you actually have to think about what's driving the high prices and that's [the] unprecedented risk that all members of the business community are facing; so this is COVID risk, skills shortages, the war in Ukraine and those risks need to be priced in," he told AM.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday slammed the "grotesque greed" of oil and gas companies and their financial backers and urged governments globally to "tax these excessive profits" to support the most vulnerable people. 

Guterres. Photo credit: Getty Images

But Carnegie said blame for prices at the pumps shouldn't fall purely on oil companies.

"We need to be more sophisticated in our thinking about this rather than actually just focusing on the symptoms when we look at our energy bills," Carnegie told AM host Ryan Bridge. "We need to look at what's driving the higher prices - and that's the unprecedented levels of risk that the business community's facing," he said.

Politicians and consumer advocates have criticised oil companies for capitalising on a global supply shortage to fatten profits and gouge consumers. New Zealand Energy Minister Megan Woods late last month questioned petrol companies about why tumbling crude oil prices weren't reflected in costs at the pump. 

Petrol prices have since fallen across the country. Data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment shows the national average for 91 octane was $2.60 in the week to July 29 - down significantly from a fortnight prior when it was $3.04.

Earlier this year, the Government passed on a 25c tax cut on fuel and has since extended it until January

Carnegie said that "non-trivial risks" such as COVID-19, inflation and the Russia-Ukraine war were "flowing right through the global supply chains" and would continue impacting prices.

"There's just no escaping that," he said.