Who owns the major energy and water suppliers, and how much profit do they make?

Every energy company has made massive profits  (Alamy)
Every energy company has made massive profits (Alamy)

Global oil giant Shell has revealed that its adjusted earnings have fallen by 34 per cent in the last three months compared with a year earlier, meaning it fell 24 million dollars (£19.7 million) behind expectations.

Addressing the recent financial quarter, Shell’s CEO, Wael Sawan, explained: “Shell delivered another quarter of strong operational and financial performance, capturing opportunities in volatile commodity markets.

“Shell is commencing a 3.5-billion-dollar buyback programme for the next three months, bringing the buybacks for the second half of 2023 to 6.5 billion dollars, well in excess of the 5 billion dollars announced at capital markets day in June.”

BP, on the other hand, missed its forecast underlying replacement cost profit by around 700 million dollars (£575 million), causing its shares to plummet earlier this week.

Meanwhile, earlier this summer, British Gas had reported profits of £969m after the price-cap rise allowed the company to make more money from household bills.

Regulator Ofgem had said the bumper record half-year profits were a “one-off” due to the changes but poverty campaigners have slammed the news, saying rising profits when so many people are struggling is a “further sign of Britain’s broken energy system”.

It had been reported that around half the profit — £500m — was due to changes to the price cap made by the energy regulator. In comparison, British Gas reported a profit of £98m in the same period the year before.

Two other major energy suppliers also announced large increases in profits this year, helped by the changes in the price cap. Scottish Power went from a large loss last year to profits of £576m and EDF said its British operations, including nuclear and wind-power generation, saw earnings jump to £1.95bn from £740m in the same period last year.

In May, SSE reported a near-doubling of its annual profits compared to last year and was fined for overcharging. The Scottish company said its adjusted pre-tax profits catapulted to £2.18bn for the 12 months to the end of March, up from £1.16bn for the same time period the year before.

The company said it had made “profits with a purpose”, which they are now planning on investing in renewable energy.

Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Paul Nowak previously said oil and gas companies were treating the British public “like cash machines”. Most trade unions in the UK belong to the TUC.

“These eye-watering profits are an insult to working families as millions struggle with sky-high bills,” he said. “The Government has left billions on the table by refusing to impose a proper windfall tax on the likes of BP. And even now ministers are refusing to take action to fix our broken energy market and stop this obscene price gouging.”

So, who owns the UK’s biggest energy firms, and how much profit are they making?

Who owns British Gas and how much profit does it make?

British Gas is owned by the company Centrica, which is the largest domestic gas supplier in the UK, and is also one of the largest electricity suppliers.

It was previously publicly owned but in December 1986 the prime minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher, privatised it.

Centrica owns British Gas and other energy companies, including Ireland’s Bord Gais Energy. In February, it reported a record operating profit of £3.3 bn last year.

They have today (July 27) reported profits of £969m after price-cap rises allowed it to make more money from household bills. About half of the profit — £500 m — was due to changes to the price cap made by the energy regulator. By comparison, British Gas reported a profit of £98 m in the same period the year before.

Who owns SSE and how much profit does it make?

SSE’s retail business, which provides energy to household customers, was sold to OVO Energy in January 2020.

OVO Energy reported that it had significantly reduced its losses in 2020 to £7 million — down from £103m the previous year. The company also reported a significant increase in revenues, from £1.5bn to £4.5bn.

In May, the company said its adjusted pre-tax profits climbed to £2.18bn from the end of March 2022 to the end of March 2023, up from almost £1.16bn the year before.

The sharp increase in full-year profits came as earnings from its gas-fired power plants surged almost fourfold to £1.24bn for the last financial year, up from £331.1m the year before.

Who owns Shell and how much profit does it make?

Shell is a British-Dutch-owned company, headquartered in the Netherlands, and is incorporated in the United Kingdom. The company, which first sold antiques and seashells, was expanded by the Samuels brothers in the 1880s into an oil-exporting business.

The Samuels brothers achieved a revolution in the transport of oil by using a tanker called the Murex across the Suez Canal to transfer oil.

Shell supplied the British Army with the majority of its fuel during World War I and made all of its ships —including the Murex — available to the British Admiralty.

Recently, Ben van Beurden, who has been CEO since January 1, 2014, was replaced by Wael Sawan.

In Sawan’s previous role as the head of Shell’s integrated gas and renewables division, he oversaw their growth into low-carbon energies, as well as its giant gas business.

Shell has revealed a big fall in the second quarter of its financial year this week (July 27), largely due to energy prices plunging from their Russia-Ukraine war peak.

The oil and gas major reported net profits of just over $5 bn (£3.9 bn) for the three months to the end of June.

The figure represents a drop of more than 50 per cent on the $11.5 bn achieved in the same period last year and fell short of analysts’ estimates.

It was also well down on the $9.65bn sum the company raked in during the first three months of the year.

Chief executive Wael Sawan said: “Shell delivered strong operational performance and cash flows in the second quarter, despite a lower commodity price environment.

“Today, we are delivering on our Capital Markets Day commitment of a 15 per cent dividend increase. We are going further on our buyback guidance by commencing a $3 bn programme for the next three months and, subject to board approval, at least $2.5bn at the Q3 2023 results.

Who owns BP and how much profit does it make?

British Petroleum, better known as BP, is a British company founded in 1909.

Its top five shareholders are State Street, BlackRock, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Fisher Investments, and Menora Mivtachim.

With operations in nearly 80 countries, BP announced it made a profit of $5 bn (£4 bn) in the first three months of 2023.

Who owns Scottish Power and how much profit does it make?

Scottish Power is owned by Spanish utility firm Iberdrola and today (July 27) announced it has gone from a large loss last year to profits of £576 m in its retail division.

In October 2021, Scottish Power reported a 39 per cent decline in underlying profits, at its division responsible for providing energy to domestic customers. It cited rising wholesale costs, as well as low wind volumes, as the key reasons for this.

In February this year, it was announced that underlying group profits in 2022 had risen 3.6 per cent to £1.6bn on a year earlier, due to increased wind volumes.

However, the group made a loss of £18m in its retail business — which, with 4.7 million customers, is the sixth-biggest supplier — after slumping from a £3m profit the year before.

ScottishPower said the total volumes of gas it supplied to households, sourced from wholesale suppliers, fell 18.3 per cent in 2022, while electricity use was down 4.5 per cent.

Who owns Southern Water and how much profit does it make?

Southern Water supplies water and sewerage services to customers across the south of England. It loses 88.1 million litres of water per day from the pipes in its network.

Macquarie, the Australian banking group that controls Southern Water, posted record profits after a boom in its commodities trading division this February.

They recorded an annual net profit of A$5.18 bn (£2.8 bn), up 10 per cent on the previous year, according to The Guardian. The profits outstripped analysts’ expectations of A$4.96 bn (£2.6 bn) for the 12 months to March 31, 2023.

Its shareholders took home £622 million in profit between 2013 and 2017. In 2021, Southern Water was ordered to pay a record £90m in fines for widespread pollution after pleading guilty to 6,971 unpermitted sewage discharges, according to Gov.uk.

The group’s Annual Report and Financial Statements are due to be released imminently.

Who owns EDF and how much profit does it make?

EDF Energy is owned by the French energy supplier Électricité de France (EDF), which is itself owned by the French government.

It made a profit of £1.12 bn in 2022 in the UK, following a loss of £21 m the previous year.

Now the French nuclear-power giant has swung to profit in the first half of the year, rebounding from a record loss in 2022 thanks to higher electricity prices and nuclear reactor output.

EDF chief executive Luc Remont said the improved results are explained by a “good operational performance in a favorable price environment after a particularly difficult 2022”.

He also defended the use of long-term electricity-supply contracts, stating that EDF will be able to provide offers to industrial consumers in September, giving them “visibility on volumes and prices”.

Who owns E.ON and how much profit does it make?

E.ON is owned by E.ON SE, an electricity supplier based in Essen, Germany. The company was formed in 1989 and was originally known as Powergen, before it was privatised in the 1990s.

The company also owns Npower, which it acquired in December 2018, and was previously owned by German multinational energy firm RWE.

In November 2021, its parent company reported a nine-month adjustment to earnings before interest and tax, of €3.93 bn (£3.29 bn), while its customer-solutions arm more than doubled its profits to €910 m (£810.4 m).

Who owns Octopus Energy and how much profit does it make?

Octopus Energy is owned by Octopus Group, the fund-management company which founded the energy firm in 2015. Octopus Group has interests in venture capital, investment management, and real estate, as well as the energy sector.

In February this year, Octopus posted a £92.7 m profit, representing a 98 per cent increase year-on-year; and £268.7 m turnover, an increase of 41 per cent on the previous year.