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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Two oil-and-gas heavyweights — Shell and TotalEnergies — both said they're taking new steps to reward investors as they reported billions of dollars in Q2 profits this morning.

Driving the news: Shell said it's launching $2 billion in share buybacks that it hopes to complete by year's end and it increased dividends to 24 cents per share, a 38% boost from Q1.

The company reported $5.5 billion in adjusted Q2 earnings

  • Meanwhile, France-based multinational TotalEnergies reported an adjusted profit of $3.5 billion.
  • The company said it would allocate up to 40% of additional cash flow from Brent crude prices above $60-per-barrel to buybacks.
  • Another huge oil company, Norway's Equinor, today announced a $300 million tranche of its share buyback program.

The big picture: The moves show Big Oil's reversal of fortune since the pandemic crushed prices and demand last year, leading to steep industry losses.

  • European majors that are increasingly diversifying into lower carbon sectors are also seeking to show investors that they'll benefit during the transition.
  • And here's your standing reminder that while they're boosting investment in areas like renewables, power services and EV charging, oil and gas remain their dominant business lines.

Go deeper: Bloomberg has much more on their earnings here.

Speaking of Big Oil and renewables, TotalEnergies and Amazon this morning announced a "strategic collaboration" that includes helping Amazon procure more clean power.

  • They said they have signed power purchase agreements to provide 474 megawatts of capacity to Amazon in the U.S. and Europe, and they expect to expand the effort to the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region.

Go deeper

OPEC+ rebuffs Biden's demands to speed up oil production

Oil tanks at an oil processing facility of Saudi Aramco, a Saudi Arabian state-owned oil and gas company, at the Abqaiq oil field. Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images

OPEC and its allied countries on Thursday ignored President Biden's demands to speed up the pace of oil production.

Why it matters via Axios' Ben Geman: The OPEC+ alliance agreed to stick to its current plan to raise oil output by 400,000 barrels per day in December — a setback for Biden, who has called for more production as gasoline prices reached a seven-year high.

COP26 takes aim at fossil fuels — with caveats

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Horst Galuschka/picture alliance via Getty Images

A slew of big announcements at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, signals a growing appetite to start weaning the global economy off fossil fuels, but several key countries aren't at the table.

Driving the news: One agreement is unprecedented, but not binding, and involves 25 countries. The effort aims to end public financing of overseas oil, gas and coal projects by the end of 2022.

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.