Revealed: oil sector’s ‘staggering’ $3bn-a-day profits for last 50 years

The oil and gas industry has delivered $2.8bn (Ł2.3bn) a day in pure profit for the last 50 years, a new analysis has revealed. The vast total captured by petrostates and fossil fuel companies since 1970 is $52tn, providing the power to “buy every politician, every system” and delay action on the climate crisis, says Prof Aviel Verbruggen, the author of the analysis. The huge profits were inflated by cartels of countries artificially restricting supply. The analysis, based on World Bank data, assesses the “rent” secured by global oil and gas sales, which is the economic term for the unearned profit produced after the total cost of production has been deducted. The study has yet to be published in an academic journal but three experts at University College London, the London School of Economics and the thinktank Carbon Tracker confirmed the analysis as accurate, with one calling the total a “staggering number”. It appears to be the first long-term assessment of the sector’s total profits, with oil rents providing 86% of the total. Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have driven the climate crisis and contributed to worsening extreme weather. Oil companies have known for decades that carbon emissions were dangerously heating the planet. The average annual profit from 1970-2020 was $1tn but [Verbruggen] said he expected this to be twice as high in 2022. The fossil fuel industry also benefits from subsidies of $16bn a day, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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