Fossil fuel giant BP paid its board members enough in one year to fund the salaries of 246 NHS nurses.
The figures come after the London-headquartered oil and gas multinational posted record profits of £23bn, fuelled by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine.
BP chief executive Bernard Looney was paid £4.46m in total for 2021, according to the company’s annual accounts.
His base salary was £1.3m, with the rest of the total coming in the form of bonuses, performance shares, and retirement benefits.
Muray Auchinoss, chief financial officer, raked in £2.2m, making him the second-best paid board member.
Helge Lund, BP’s chair, was paid £785,000 in 2021. Paula Rosput Reynolds, a senior independent director, was paid £185,000.
Pamela Daley, an independent non-executive director received remuneration worth £145,000.
Melody Meyer, Tushar Morzaria, Sir John Sawers and Johannes Teyssen - also independent non-executive directors - were paid £160,000 and £136,000 respectively.
The profits of oil and gas firms such as BP have come under the spotlight over the past year as they continue to post bumper profits which critics have described as the “windfalls of war”.
Consumers, meanwhile, foot the bill for higher gas and electricity costs while public services such as the NHS come under financial constraints due to sky-high inflation.
The cost of oil gas, already high due to increased demand coming out of the Covid pandemic, soared last year Mr Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine.
Although the price of gas has started to come down households across the country will continue paying much higher than average energy bills in the months ahead.
BP posted profits of $27.7bn (£23bn) in 2022, compared with $12.8bn the year before, accounts published on Tuesday showed. It paid $5.4bn (£4.3bn) and $4.3bn (£3.4bn) in dividend payments to shareholders.
The firm said it expected to pay $2.2 bn (£1.8bn) in tax for our North Sea business for 2022 – this includes $700 mn (£584mn due to the Energy Profits Levy that was introduced in May. Mr Looney said the firm’s annual profits were aided by the “lowest production costs in 16 years.”
Climate group Friends of the Earth said BP’s profits “will be yet more salt in the wound for millions of people who’ve struggled to afford to stay warm and well this winter”.
BP is not alone in posting record profits in recent years.
Last week Shell announced that its profits increased by 53 per cent to £68.1bn in 2022, while earnings adjusted for taxes doubled to £32.2bn.
The £32.2bn figure is more than double the government’s entire budget for environment (£13.9bn) and a third of the education budget, which is £100bn. Planned spending for the NHS in 2022/23 was £180bn.
According to the Royal College of Nursing, the average salary for a nurse in 2021 was £33,384.
Nurses staged another round of industrial action on Tuesday in an ongoing row over pay and conditions.
In September last year NHS England said there were 47,000 nursing vacancies across the country.
Members of the profession say that overstretched services are putting the safety of patients at risk.
The government has said it is sticking to the recommendations of the independent pay review body on public sector salaries and that higher wages risk fuelling inflation, currently at 10.5 per cent.
Following calls from opposition parties the government introduced a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas giants to help fund support for energy bills.
Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow climate secretary, said ministers were letting “the fossil fuel companies making bumper profits off the hook with their refusal to implement a proper windfall tax”.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt increased the amount firms pay in windfall taxes, hiking the levy to 35 per cent in changes that came into effect last month.
He has so far rejected calls to prevent bills rising for all households from April as the government scales back its help for gas and electricity bills.