The latest Origin Annual Report states that the company saw profits of more than $1 Billion in 2022 to 2023, with this increase in revenue being a result of "higher commodity prices." The release of the report comes just 2 months after Origin increased energy bills by up to 25%.
The Australian reported that Origin had seen a $1.53 billion loss in the year prior and that this most recent year's profit was "driven by record gas prices amid the global energy crunch" and approval by Australian regulators to increase bills which "allowed retailers to recoup losses incurred in the previous year." The New Daily also reported that, as a result of their 20% stake in the United Kingdom's energy retailer, Octopus, Origin has been able to "profit from Europe's energy crisis."
Origin's share price jumped as much as 2% on the day of the report's release, with Frank Calabria, Origin's CEO, commenting:
"Operational performance right across Origin was strong this year with higher earnings contributions from Energy Markets, Integrated Gas, and Octopus Energy in the UK. Australia Pacific LNG delivered record revenue and cash distributions to Origin as it benefited from elevated commodity prices… In Energy Markets, electricity earnings improved as higher wholesale costs from previous periods were recovered through electricity tariffs and coal supply costs declined following the introduction of the coal price cap. Higher sales revenue and trading benefits also contributed to higher earnings in the natural gas segment."
Origin had already increased gas prices at the start of 2023, with some parts of the country seeing household tariffs increase by $370 per year or 22%. An Origin spokesperson, speaking to the Australian Financial Review, defended the increase in January:
“Like all retailers, we have been facing materially high gas costs over recent months, which means it costs us more to supply gas to our customers... Increasing prices is never a decision we take lightly, especially when we know people are struggling with higher costs of living.”
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)has questioned Origin's profits, with Joseph Mitchell, the Assistant Secretary for the ACTU highlighting the current cost of living crisis:
"‘Australians will find it hard to swallow that Origin can post such an enormous increase in profits, especially when we hear heartbreaking stories of people going without heating, hot water or sacrificing lighting their homes at night just to be able to make ends meet..."
Mr. Mitchell also criticised Origin's failure to pass on savings to customers:
“Customers will rightly wonder how these big energy companies can justify such large profits, especially as Origin reports that it is due partly to the cost of purchasing energy for them is fallen, and they have failed to promptly pass on those savings to consumers."