There is nothing quite like an energy giant reporting large profits to send the world into an outraged frenzy.

To be fair, Shell did appear to hit the jackpot yesterday when it posted an eye-watering £32.2 billion profit due to soaring oil and gas prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It is the highest in the firm’s 115-year-old history and was no doubt toasted with something a bit stronger than crude oil in the London boardroom.

But while it is undoubtedly an impressive set of figures, the news caused many hands to touch heads across the country as they swooned at the sheer outrage of it all.

“Obscene” said Friends of the Earth while the Greens stepped up the hyperbole by referring to it as “sickening”. 

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Many more expressed outrage and demanded the “shocking” profits are handed straight over to the Treasury – now – so they can be redistributed amongst the poor and needy while also funding pay rises for public sector staff and fund the NHS.

Quite how they expect Shell to fund the NHS is beyond me but you can’t fault them for trying.

But realistically, if you strip away the hysteria, are Shell – or any other oil giant – doing anything wrong.

Of course they aren’t – they’re just lucky to be good at their jobs at a time when the global commodities market has gone haywire thanks to Mr Putin’s expansionist policies.

The oil companies cannot possibly be blamed and should not be punished unfairly because of global events beyond their control.

After all, when Shell announced a loss of £14.7 billion in 2020 which covered the pandemic did anyone call for a government bail-out to help them?

HeraldScotland:  Shell has announced record annual profits having doubled in a year to $39.9bn (£32.2bn) Shell has announced record annual profits having doubled in a year to $39.9bn (£32.2bn)

Of course they didn’t so when the tables are turned they should not call for success to be punished.

It is a peculiar trait of some on the left that they simply cannot abide a company or an individual making money and being successful. 

Basic economics tells us that companies make profits and losses. 

When they make profits then some of the money is handed to shareholders, many of which are pension funds in which most of us have stake, and the rest should then be invested back into the firm.

It is also basic supply and demand - we demand what the oil companies produce and they supply it. 

It has always been the way and is how economics works on the most basic of levels.

Shell also made several low-carbon investments in 2022 but the $3.5bn it spent in total on renewables and energy solutions was only 14 per cent of the group’s total capital spending of $24.8bn.

It is a start but if you tax the profits too highly then this investment could dry up completely which seems totally counter-productive.

Of course, critics point out that the profits have been made at the same time as domestic energy bills have gone through the roof due to the same crisis that has fuelled Shell’s profits.

This is a perfectly valid argument and Rishi Sunak tried to address this by imposing a windfall tax on the energy firms.

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Shell is expected to pay around £1.5 billion this year, as well as other taxes, but it can only be imposed on profits made in the UK.

It can clearly take the hit but others in the sector cannot and Harbour Energy, which is the biggest player in the North Sea, recently announced potential job losses in Aberdeen because of the tax.

Shell employs around 6,000 people in the UK, all of whom are taxpayers, many at the top rate. If Shell gets taxed too highly and profits fall, then many of them may be laid off as a result.

General taxation is the fairest and most productive way to fund public services rather than one-off windfall levies to play to the angry galleries.

The amount the Treasury will receive from windfall taxes is absolutely dwarfed by VAT alone so the actual point of them is questionable.

HeraldScotland: The gains of Europe's largest oil and gas company are the highest in its 115-year historyThe gains of Europe's largest oil and gas company are the highest in its 115-year history (Image: .)

Of course in the current climate any increase in taxes is a boost for the Treasury and it helps to prevent the public from forking out even more.

Many of the harshest critics of Shell were to be found on social media, where they were no doubt venting their fury from phones  made by Apple – a company which made an eye-watering $170billion profits last year.

They wouldn’t make that sort of profit if people stopped buying their products but mobile phones are like oil in that consumers cannot have enough of them. That will not change in the foreseeable future so there is absolutely no point in whingeing about it.

The answer to that conundrum is that we as consumers have to change our habits or nothing will change.

Firms like Shell and Apple will continue to rake in huge profits by delivering goods that we want – and we cannot complain when they do it well and make big money.