France’s TotalEnergies posts record $20 billion net profit

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France’s TotalEnergies said Wednesday that high oil and gas prices bolstered its net profit to a record $20.5 billion in 2022 and announced higher dividend payments for shareholders.

The 28 percent gain would have been much higher save for the nearly $15 billion in charges linked to its leaving the Russian market, with adjusted profits excluding such exceptional items rising to $36.2 billion.

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Nevertheless, the surge in oil and natural gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions was a major boost for TotalEnergies, as it was for its rivals.

The massive profits have sparked renewed debate about taxing windfall earnings to help fund measures to protect consumers from rampant inflation, including soaring energy prices.

TotalEnergies’ strong presence in the liquefied natural gas market also helped as European nations sought supplies from further afield after Russia cut supplies by pipeline.

“The company took full advantage of its global LNG portfolio,” chief executive Patrick Pouyanne said in a statement.

TotalEnergies reported a 22 percent jump in LNG sales in the final three months of last year compared to the same period in 2021. That helped drive an 11 percent gain in overall adjusted profits for the quarter to $7.6 billion, though Russia-related charges reduced that to $3.3 billion on a net basis.

The company increased final dividend payments for 2022, and said it could boost returns to shareholders even further this year.

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