Oil giants must stop hammering drivers
and Chancellor Alistair Darling added his voice to the chorus of demands for a big reduction at the pumps as the oil price drops.
“I want oil companies to pass on reductions as soon as possible because people are entitled to see the benefits,” he said.
Tory frontbencher Philip Hammond, the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, also backed the Daily Express crusade.
He said: “Much of this profit has been made on the back of sky-high oil prices. Now that prices have come down, oil companies must pass on the reduced cost to customers.”
Shell’s £6.6billion quarterly profit outstripped even rival BP. The massive figure was equivalent to £50,000 a minute.
It was squeezed out of motorists at the peak of the record oil price surge when it reached more than 147 US dollars a barrel in the summer.
Now it is back to around 70 dollars a barrel – and motoring experts are convinced oil firms will have to heed the growing outcry led by the Daily Express.
John Franklin, of the RAC, said: “We fully support the Daily Express crusade. We have seen excessive petrol prices over the last year.
“While prices have come down, which is welcome, that has largely been on the initiative of supermarkets. It’s about time oil companies made a contribution.”
Mr Franklin expected oil profits to slump in the next quarter as companies are pressured into cutting prices.
“Motorists feel they are being used just to make more profits for oil companies. They should be entitled to see falls in prices at the pumps,” he added.
As anger intensified, more senior politicians and pressure groups threw their support behind our crusade.
Kate Gibb, of the Road Haulage Association, said: “Shell’s profits are scandalous and iniquitous. This is why we support the Daily Express crusade.”
Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable, a former Shell economist, also backed the Daily Express.
He said: “There is no reason to take so much money from the pockets of road users. The recent spike in oil prices has led to a jump in profits for the big oil companies.
“They must pass on price cuts as oil prices continue to fall, which will be of some relief to the many families struggling with sky-high energy bills.
“It is important that Shell, BP and the other companies live up to their promises and invest these enormous profits into renewable forms of energy. These will be crucial as oil begins to run out.”
Earlier this week, BP faced outrage after it announced third-quarter profits of £6.4billion – a 148 per cent increase on last year’s figure. Between them, Shell and BP have now posted profits of £13billion this week.
Shell’s chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, described the results as “satisfactory”.
He said: “We delivered satisfactory earnings and operating performance in the third quarter of 2008. We are watching the world economic situation closely.
“Our strategy remains to pay competitive and progressive dividends, and to make significant investments in the company for future profitability.” But union leader Tony Woodley, of Unite, described the profits as “obscene” and branded Shell “greedy”.
He said: “Shell shareholders are doing very nicely while the rest of us, the stakeholders, are paying the price and struggling.
“Cumulative oil industry profits in excess of £50billion in the last three years are obscene.
“It is time the Government acted,” he added, calling for a windfall tax. “The oil companies can maintain investment programmes, pay normal taxes, maintain good returns to shareholders but still put their hands in their treasure chests,” he said.
US oil giant Exxon Mobil last night announced profits of £8.9billion for July to September.
It smashed the firm’s own record for the highest quarterly profit by a US company and was a 58 per cent rise on the same period last year.