If there’s one takeaway from Woodside reporting a massive +400% increase in profit, it is the sheer level of indignation that some have towards the company for profiting from soaring energy prices.

Greenpeace was quick to declare that Woodside’s confidence in pursing more gas developments was misplaced due to mounting climate risks and that it was ignoring shareholder calls to align itself with the Paris Agreement.

It also called out Woodside and its offtake partners for investing in LNG projects rather than developing renewable energy.

Meanwhile, Independent senator David Pocock and energy analyst Tim Buckley called for the Government to introduce a super profits tax to ensure that Australia benefits from resources that essentially belong to the people.

A resources super profits tax is not a new concept for Australia.

There is actually a petroleum resource rent tax levied at 40% on the taxable profits derived from offshore oil and gas resources on the Australian tax books, but it is widely criticised as a failure – with some pointing to PRRT revenue for 2021 of $800m as evidence that it is not working.

Pocock and Buckley are just the latest to join the call for either changes to be made to the PRRT or to outright replace it with a more effective regime.

Super profits tax changes are not new

The Greens have called for royalty revenue to be calculated by multiplying the royalty rate (10%) by the wellhead value of gas produced. Thaty mirrors the Tax Justice Network’s call for the introduction of a new 10% royalty on all current and future offshore oil and gas projects that are currently only subject to the PRRT.

While the gas industry has argued that additional taxation would prevent projects from being developed in the first place, which they claim would mean fewer jobs and revenue, the fact remains that gas projects are still developed in other jurisdictions with far more onerous tax regimes.

In the absence of companies such as Woodside and Santos investing their super profits into renewable energy – something they don’t seem terribly inclined to do – it can be argued that a tax on said profits could provide the Federal Government with additional funding to support green projects.

Agencies such as ARENA already have the mandate to support renewable energy projects, energy efficiency and electrification technologies so it is not hard to see how much more they could boost Australia’s efforts to achieve net zero with more available funding.

How likely a super profits tax will be introduced or amended is anyone’s guess, but at this stages, we aren’t holding our breath.