Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shell profits up 25 pct on record high oil prices

Shell profits up 25 pct on record high oil prices

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Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell said Tuesday that first-quarter net profits leapt 25 percent to 4.58 billion pounds because of record-breaking crude oil prices.

Crude oil prices smashed record after record in the first quarter and hit an all-time high of almost 120 dollars per barrel on Monday on the back of a British refinery strike and simmering tensions in key producer Nigeria.

Net earnings on a current cost of supply (CCS) basis, excluding fluctuations in the value of inventories, were up 12 percent to 3.92 billion pounds in the three months ending March 31, compared with the same period of 2007.

Stripping out the impact of one-off items, net CCS earnings grew to 3.96 billion pounds, which beat market expectations for a CCS profit of 3.41 billion pounds.

Shell said production increased by 0.4 percent in the first quarter to 3.52 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, while revenue climbed 55.6 percent to 57.69 billion pounds.

"Good operating performance, combined with increased oil and gas prices, offset the impact of downstream conditions in the first quarter 2008," said chief executive Jeroen van der Veer in an earnings release.

"We have delivered another competitive set of earnings for Shell's shareholders."

The company also raised its quarterly shareholder dividend by 11 percent to 40 cents per share.

Royal Dutch Shell, the biggest European energy major in terms of stock market capitalisation, returned a total of 1.7 billion pounds to shareholders during the first quarter in the form of dividends and share buybacks.

The results were well received by the markets in London.

In late morning trade, Shell saw its 'B' shares up 4.42 percent to 2,008 pence on the FTSE 100 index of leading companies, which in turn rose 0.48 percent to 6,119.50 points.

In commodities markets on Monday, the price of New York light sweet crude hit an all-time peak of 119.93 dollars -- a gain of more than 80 percent from a year ago.

The price of Brent North Sea crude oil struck an historic high 117.56 dollars in London trading last Friday.

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