CLIMATE campaigners are to launch protests in Scotland as Norwegian state-owned energy giant Equinor becomes the latest to post record profits.

The oil and gas producer, which is behind the world's first commercial wind farm using floating wind turbines off Peterhead, posted a record $74.9bn (£62.9bn) pre-tax profits for 2022, more than double its previous high, as gas prices soared.

Protests are due to take place today outside the Equinor offices in Aberdeen while Friends of the Eart Scotland described the figures - larger than Shell and BP’s profits combined - as "a slap in the face" for the millions of households that have been pushed into fuel poverty due to rising energy bills.

Equinor, which provided around 27% of the UK’s gas demand last year is currently waiting on the UK Government to approve development of the Rosebank oil field, which is 80 miles to the west of Shetland and the largest undeveloped oil field in UK waters. The field discovered in 2004, has been estimated to hold around 300 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Protesters say that if all the oil and gas contained in this single field is burned, it would produce more CO2 than the annual emissions of the world’s 28 lowest income countries combined.

Equinor last year became Europe's largest supplier of natural gas as Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM) cut deliveries amid the West's support for Ukraine, sending European gas prices to all-time highs.

President and chief executive Anders Opedal said: “Equinor is uniquely positioned to provide energy and contribute to decarbonisation, while delivering strong returns.”

“In 2022, we responded to the energy crisis and contributed to energy security. With strong operational performance, we delivered record results and cash flow from operations. We stepped up capital distribution to shareholders, while continuing to invest in a balanced energy transition and contributing to society with high tax payments.”

Climate groups including Stop Rosebank and the Young Christian Climate Network held a “candle-lit vigil” on Tuesday evening outside the Norwegian Embassy in central London to highlight what they say is Equinor’s role in “both the climate and cost of living crises.” 

READ MORE: ScotWind: Scotland faces loss of £60bn in new offshore wind farms

Further protests are planned this afternoon at offices in Kingswells on the outskirts of Aberdeen and at offices in Paddington, London.


A protest against Rosebank in November in Glasgow.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s oil and gas campaigner Freya Aitchison said: “The fact that Equinor and other fossil fuel companies made such obscene profits is a real slap in the face for the millions of people who are struggling to pay their energy bills and keep their homes warm this winter. On top of this, the UK Government is incentivising Equinor to drill for more oil and gas in the Rosebank field by giving them a £500 million tax break.

“Climate science is clear that to limit further dangerous climate breakdown, there must be no new investment in oil and gas extraction. Any oil produced from Rosebank will belong to Equinor who can sell it on the international market to the highest bidder. 80% of the oil extracted in the North Sea is exported and independent research has shown that it will not bring down energy bills."

On Tuesday, BP scaled back its climate ambitions to cut oil and gas production by 2030 after soaring fossil fuel prices helped the energy giant reach the highest profits in its 114-year history.

In was seen as a major u-turn which angered climate campaigners, the oil and gas giant cut its emissions pledge and said it plans a greater production of oil and gas over the next seven years compared with previous targets.

BP's profits more than doubled to $27.7bn (£23bn) in 2022, compared with $12.8bn the year before.

It comes hot on the heels of Shell announcing record annual profits doubled in a year to $39.9bn (£32.2bn) afer energy pri surged in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The gains of Europe's largest oil and gas compan doubled from a year earlier and were the highest in its 115-year history, outstripping the previous record of $31bn in 2008.

In the wake of Shell's profits, the Labour party asked for Britain’s energy profits levy to be revamped to capture more of the exceptional earnings made by oil and gas firms.

But trade body Offshore Energies UK said that the rate of UK tax is already so high it risks driving companies out of UK waters.

The new wave of energy giant profits have led to more calls for better support for struggling consumers in the cost of living crisis and for firms to pay more tax as many households struggle with rising bills.

Equinor's video of Hywind Scotland – the world’s first floating wind farm

Energy prices rose sharply in March last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking concerns about global supplies.

The price of Brent crude oil reached nearly $128 a barrel, but has since fallen back to about $80. Gas prices also rose but have come down from their highs.

It has led to huge profits for energy companies, but also led to a rise in energy bills for households and businesses.

Rishi Sunak introduced the tax when he was chancellor, describing it as a 25% Energy Profits Levy.

The levy applies to profits made from extracting UK oil and gas, but not from other activities such as refining oil and selling petrol and diesel on forecourts. Mr Hunt said it would raise £40bn over six years.

Oil and gas firms also pay 30% corporation tax on their profits as well as a supplementary 10% rate. Along with the new windfall tax, that takes their total tax rate to 75%.

In the Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced this would increase to 35% from January 2023, and stay in place until March 2028. It had previously been scheduled to finish at the end of 2025.

Rosebank could account for eight per cent of the UK’s oil production from 2026 to 2030, according to a study from Wood Mackenzie and Voar Energy.

Equinor stated that the UK only produced 57% of the oil volumes and 41% of the gas it required in 2021.

The study found the field would generate a total economic impact of £24.1 bn over the lifetime of the project, estimating that more than 1,600 jobs will be supported at the height of the construction phase in the second quarter of 2025. An average of 450 UK-based jobs will be supported over the duration.

The study found the field would generate a total economic impact of £24.1 billion over the lifetime of the project, estimating that more than 1,600 jobs will be supported at the height of the construction phase in the second quarter of 2025. An average of 450 UK-based jobs will be supported over the duration.

An Equinor spokesman said: “Rosebank has the potential to strengthen energy security with oil and gas that is produced with a much lower carbon footprint than current UK production “We aim to develop and operate projects such as Rosebank with the lowest possible carbon footprint while bringing the maximum value to society in the shape of UK investment, local jobs and energy security.

“The Rosebank project is estimated to bring £26.8 billion to the UK through tax payments and investments into the UK economy.”