All eyes will now be on Shell and ExxonMobil, which will announce huge third-quarter profits tomorrow.
Exxon, the world’s largest oil company not controlled by a government, is expected to report a 32% rise in profits to nearly £8billion, which would top the second quarter, when its profits were a record for any American company.
Analysts have forecast that income at rival Shell for the third quarter will exceed £4.5billion.
Shell made annual profits of £14billion last year – a record for a UK-listed company. Like BP, Shell is certain to come under attack for the level of its latest profits.
Malcolm Webb, chief executive of industry body Oil and Gas UK, said: “Profits announced by multinational companies are earned from their activities around the world, not just the UK, over many years of sustained high levels of investment. While third-quarter profits posted by oil and gas companies have been influenced by high oil prices, the fourth quarter will reflect the impact of oil prices that are now less than half what they were only three months ago.
“Producing oil and gas is a high-risk, high-cost business, particularly in mature regions such as the North Sea. It requires companies to commit to spending on a massive scale – £400billion since oil and gas production began in the UK – yet they do not control the highly volatile price of the product they sell.
“With tax rates of 50-75%, the government is already the single biggest beneficiary from the UK’s North Sea oil industry. The calls for imposition of a windfall tax are thoroughly misguided.”