Doubling of BP boss pay to £10m is a ‘kick in the teeth’, say campaigners

Bernard Looney’s bumper pay package follows annual profits of £23bn linked to soaring gas prices sparked by Russia-Ukraine war

A payout for the boss of BP has been labelled a “kick in the teeth” for consumers battling the cost of living crisis, as chief executive Bernard Looney saw his pay package more than double to £10m after the oil and gas giant landed record profits linked to the war in Ukraine.

His package included a salary of £1.4m, a bonus of £2.4m – down fractionally on 2021 – and a £6m share award, as well as benefits. The total package was 120% more than the £4.5m he received in 2021.

BP last month reported annual profits of £23bn after its earnings jumped because of soaring wholesale gas prices, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and cuts to supplies into Europe.

BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney
Bernard Looney’s BP pay package includes a salary of £1.4m, a bonus of £2.4m – down fractionally on 2021 – and a £6m share award, as well as benefits. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Looney could have received a bonus of up to £11.4m under a three-year share award plan that was devised in 2020, when the pandemic punctured oil demand and forced BP to cut 10,000 jobs. The shares have risen more than 174% since their Covid low point.

The share award was 54% of the possible maximum due to Looney, while his bonus was 76% of the maximum.

The recovery in oil and gas prices has led to record profits during the energy crisis. BP and its rivals have been lambasted by MPs and campaigners for raking in huge profits while households struggle to pay their gas and electricity bills.

Campaigners have called for energy firms to face tougher windfall taxes and for bonuses to be cut. Chris O’Shea, the chief executive of the British Gas owner, Centrica, refused to say whether he would waive a forthcoming bonus of up to £1.6m.

Greenpeace UK’s head of UK climate Mel Evans, said: “As families open their energy bills this month, consumed with worry about how they will make ends meet, enormous bonuses are dished out to energy bosses.

“It’s fundamentally wrong that energy companies are profiting from a war overseas, whilst at the same time increasing wealth inequality in the UK.”

Evans called on the government to toughen the windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas operators.

Global Witness said Looney’s pay package was 300 times the UK average worker pay and alone equal to the energy bills of 4,000 British households.

Jonathan Noronha-Gant, senior fossil fuels campaigner at Global Witness, said: “People everywhere struggling to feed their families or warm their homes in the harsh winter months, have every right to be angry that the CEO of a huge energy firm is netting millions of pounds in pay.

“This enormous pay package is a kick in the teeth to all hardworking people being faced with a cost-of-living crisis.”

On Thursday, BP’s rival Shell said that its former chief executive, Ben van Beurden, who stood down at the end of last year, had seen his total pay rise from £6.3m in 2021 to £9.7m in 2022. His bonus rose from £2.2m in 2021 to £2.6m in 2022.

The Sunday Times reported last month that BP had faced pressure from investors over the level of payouts to executives. The company said it had consulted with investors before making the pay decision.

Paula Rosput Reynolds, the chair of BP’s pay committee, said: “The vast majority of [Looney’s] remuneration is explicitly linked to performance over the three year period. During that time almost all of the metrics that we set forth – and which were endorsed by shareholders – have been met. Nevertheless, the [remuneration committee] looks beyond the mechanics of metrics.

“We carefully reflected on the wider context and chose to use our discretion to reduce the overall outcome. We believe the outcome reflects the complexity of Bernard’s job of running our global enterprise and its diverse and essential businesses.”

Looney’s bonus was reduced in part due to an assessment of the company’s safety record – four members of its workforce died on the job in 2022 and its “recordable injury frequency” rate also rose, by 14%.

BP caused dismay last month by cutting its emissions pledges and plans a greater production of oil and gas over the next seven years compared with previous targets.


Alex Lawson Energy correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
European gas shortages likely to last several winters, says Shell chief
Warning raises prospect of continued rationing, as Total boss says Europe has to plan for future without Russian supplies

Gwyn Topham

29, Aug, 2022 @5:47 PM

Article image
BP shares in Kremlin oil firm are ‘blood money’, says Zelenskiy adviser
British oil giant had said it would ‘exit Russia’ but still owns nearly 20% of state-controlled fossil fuel firm Rosneft

Alex Lawson Energy correspondent

02, Dec, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Europe could face energy rationing as ‘really tough winter’ looms, Shell boss warns
Ben van Beurden says Ukraine war fallout means big rise in bills and possible need to ration supplies

Mark Sweney and Alex Lawson

14, Jul, 2022 @12:04 PM

Article image
Invasion of Ukraine ‘has fuelled funding boom for clean energy’
International Energy Agency says investment will hit $1.7tn this year, well ahead of fossil fuels

Jillian Ambrose

25, May, 2023 @5:00 AM

Article image
BP scales back climate goals as profits more than double to £23bn
Energy company faces calls for toughened windfall tax as it reaps rewards from high gas prices

Alex Lawson Energy correspondent

07, Feb, 2023 @8:31 AM

Article image
Russia’s economy is under siege, but will the west break first? | Larry Elliott
Sanctions will take time and ‘Ukraine fatigue’ could blunt west’s resolve as cost of living crisis deepens

Larry Elliott

06, Mar, 2022 @10:36 AM

Article image
Energy ministers to gather to thrash out EU approach to gas and electricity price crisis
Talks expected to be complex, with some member states strongly against proposed price cap on Russian gas

Jennifer Rankin in Brussels

08, Sep, 2022 @11:01 PM

Article image
Shell joins BP in selling Russian assets as pressure on Kremlin-linked firms grows
British oil major to exit joint ventures with Gazprom after BP pledged to sell its 20% Rosneft stake

Rob Davies

28, Feb, 2022 @6:57 PM

Article image
How gas rationing at Germany’s BASF plant could plunge Europe into crisis
A shutdown would have a far-reaching impact across all sectors, from nappies to medicine

Philip Oltermann in Ludwigshafen

15, Sep, 2022 @3:09 PM

Article image
Donate ‘wartime profits’ to Ukraine or pay windfall tax, MPs tell BP
The company, which still owns stock in Russian oil, is being pressured to sever all ties with the country

Alex Lawson Energy correspondent

07, Dec, 2022 @3:52 PM