Energy giant Shell has added nearly $10bn in extra profit to its balance sheet, amid surging gas prices.
The business said its adjusted earnings more than doubled to $9.5bn (£8.2bn) in the three months to the end of September when compared with the year before.
However, profits are down compared with the company’s second quarter, when it made a massive $11.5bn (£9.9bn), as the price of oil slowly began to fall after months of highs due to the war in Ukraine.
Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said: “We are delivering robust results at a time of ongoing volatility in global energy markets.”
Shell is now nine months into what is shaping up to be the company’s most profitable year ever – barring an unlikely major collapse in oil and gas prices over November and December.
The business was already benefiting from a global economy that had reopened after the pandemic and was desperate for energy.
Then Russia launched an attack on Ukraine, pushing European gas prices to all-time highs and the price of oil soared internationally.
The months-long energy crisis led then-chancellor Rishi Sunak in May to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies operating in the North Sea.
But that has not stopped Shell from handing billions of dollars to its shareholders this year.
On Thursday, it announced plans to return another $4bn (£3.5bn) to shareholders by buying back shares over the next three months, and said it will also increase the dividend by 15%.
It takes the total payout to Shell shareholders to $26bn (£22.4bn) so far this year.
Mr van Beurden said: “We continue to strengthen Shell’s portfolio through disciplined investment and transform the company for a low-carbon future.
“At the same time we are working closely with governments and customers to address their short and long-term energy needs.
“Today we are announcing a new share buyback programme resulting in an additional four billion dollars of distributions, which we expect to complete by our Q4 (fourth quarter) 2022 results announcement.”
Greenpeace on Thursday called for a “proper tax” on the energy giant’s profits, which it said could help insulate thousands of homes.
The group’s UK senior climate adviser, Charlie Kronick, said: “While Shell continues to bank billions, how many more households need to be forced into fuel poverty before the Government wakes up?
“The only way to address the interlocking cost of living, energy security and climate crises is a street-by-street rollout of home insulation combined with a massive lift in ambition for renewable energy.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “The Conservative Government’s refusal to properly tax these eye-watering profits is an insult to families struggling to pay their energy bills.
“Even the CEO of Shell has admitted that oil and gas companies should be taxed more to help protect vulnerable households.”