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DAILY MAIL (UK): Shell fuels controversy as profits soar by 42pc

DAILY MAIL (UK): Shell fuels controversy as profits soar by 42pc

Posted 30 April 05

By Brian O’Connor

SHELL and Exxon Mobil made huge profits in the quarter to March, bringing fresh protests from motorists and consumer groups squeezed by soaring oil prices.

Fears for the world economy continued as US crude prices, which briefly fell below $50 for the first time in 10 days, rebounded to $51.85.

Shell’s profits soared 42pc to $6.67bn (£3.5bn), a whisker above the $6.66bn that BP reported this week.

Profits at Exxon, the biggest of the three global giants, rose 44pc to $7.86bn (£4.1bn). Between them, the trio made £11bn in the quarter.

Shell chief executive Jeroen van der Veer called it ‘a very strong performance across all the businesses’ and set the quarterly dividend at 4.55p.

Unlike BP, which excels in ‘upstream’ production, Shell made most of its profits from its ‘downstream’ refining and petrol stations. It refused to say how much it made in Britain but claimed to have lost money on petrol retailing. Group profits from oil products rose 59pc as it upgraded refineries to process more ‘heavy’ crude.

Shell still has a lot of repair work to do following the oil reserves scandal and after replacing only 19pc of its reserves with new finds last year. In June it will publish details of how it is meeting the US Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines.     

Van der Veer welcomes moves to review the guidelines.. ‘They are not easy to understand for the public. Different companies make different reserve bookings for the same field,’ he said.

Oil firms are in bad shape despite record profits, says The Economist magazine. As reserves dwindle, they need to reverse cost cuts and invest heavily. Two-thirds of world reserves are in five countries, whose power will grow.

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