British Gas owner Centrica is on course for bumper profits on the back of soaring energy prices that have left millions of consumers struggling to pay their bills.
The energy giant has predicted an eightfold increase in full-year profits, with earnings of 30p per share.
The profit windfall comes amid soaring oil and gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, largely driven by sanctions on Moscow. Prices peaked in 2022 but remain historically high.
Most of the costs have been passed onto consumers. Campaigners predict the number of households in fuel poverty will increase to 8.4 million from April when government support drops.
National Energy Action said those in fuel poverty will include 1.8 million carers, 5.9 million low income and financially vulnerable households, 3.6 million people with a disability and 1.6 million households in homes without a gas supply.
Centrica’s energy, marketing and trading business trades in power and gas across much of Europe. Big swings in gas and electricity prices in recent months have left a lot of space for energy traders to make big profits.
Centrica will also be benefiting from the Rough gas storage site, Britain’s biggest. Years after being decommissioned, the brought the site back online in 2022 as countries across Europe scrambled to find enough gas to last the winter.
Late last year, the company started selling some of the gas that it had stored up in previous months, likely giving it an extra boost to cap off 2022.
In its update on Thursday, the company said: “Centrica has continued to deliver strong operational performance from its balanced portfolio since its trading update on November 10 2022.
“Infrastructure asset availability and volumes have remained good, and we delivered incrementally strong optimisation performance.
“As a result, we currently expect to report 2022 full year adjusted earnings per share of above 30p. Cash generation has also been good, and we expect 2022 closing net cash to be above £1 billion.”
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