TWO major energy firms have announced billions of pounds worth of profits as the UK faces an increasing cost of living crisis.

Just hours after financial expert Martin Lewis warned that the energy price cap could rise as much as 78% and increase further in January, energy giants Shell and Centrica – which owns British Gas – revealed their financial outlooks for the year.

In the second quarter of the year, Shell’s profits hit a record £9.5bn – breaking the previous all-time high of £7.5bn from the first quarter of 2022.

Centrica saw its operating profits increase to £1.34 billion over the first six months of 2022, up £262 million on the previous year.

READ MORE: Martin Lewis calls for intervention as experts warn UK energy prices could double

British Gas, meanwhile, said operating profits were down 43% to £98m – but said it had taken on an extra 200,000 customers in the last year as rivals went out of business. This apparently led to higher purchasing costs for the company as it managed the increased demand.

Global energy prices started to increase last year amid a rise in demand post-lockdowns. They rose further following the invasion of Ukraine, but many European countries have managed to keep costs down for consumers through government policy.

In the Tory leadership contest, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have failed to commit to specific new measures to tackle the skyrocketing prices should they become PM.

“The rise in wholesale commodity prices meant that default tariffs remained cheaper than nearly all new fixed-price tariffs,” Centrica said.

“This resulted in more customers on default tariffs than we had hedged for, requiring us to purchase more commodity from the market at prices above those allowed with the price caps.

“Price cap allowances have been introduced to compensate for these costs, however this recovery will mostly occur in future periods.”

READ MORE: Martin Lewis issues two-month warning to UK households amid 'horrendous' energy price hike

Shell’s chief executive officer Ben van Beurden said: “With volatile energy markets and the ongoing need for action to tackle climate change, 2022 continues to present huge challenges for consumers, governments, and companies alike.

“Consequently, we are using our financial strength to invest in secure energy supplies which the world needs today, taking real, bold steps to cut carbon emissions, and transforming our company for a low-carbon energy future.”

It comes as energy bills could hit £3420 in October – and go up to £3850 in January. Just last year, the price cap was £1138.