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By David Cralk: Friday October 28,2011

OIL giant Royal Dutch Shell unveiled a doubling in profits ­yesterday thanks to higher prices as it vowed to slash European investment because of economic fears.

Chief executive Peter Voser said the group was making good progress as it reported third-quarter profits of $7.2billion (£4.5billion) for the period to the end of September up from £2.1billion last time.

It said oil prices, often soaring above $100 a barrel and new projects particularly in Canada and Qatar, had been the main drivers offsetting a 2 per cent dip in production to 3million barrels a day after a ramp up in asset sales such as its SDHp Norwegian gas pipelines.

However, finance chief Simon Henry said it was planning, though not expecting, for oil prices to fall to $80 a barrel next year.

“The economic environment is uncertain. It varies day-to-day.

“The price will depend on demand from emerging economies and OPEC discipline,” he said.

Shell said the economic gloom would lead it to cut back on the amount it spends on European projects.

“At present 15 per cent of our annual investments is spent on Europe. That is likely to decrease,” Henry said.

“We do not see the European Union creating the conditions to stoke economic growth, in fact quite the opposite. Most moves by the Commission tend to reduce the competitiveness of European industry.”

Shell said it would continue to focus its operations in Ukraine, Australia, North America and Africa.

It is ready to relaunch exploration projects in Libya and to export ­liquid natural gas (LNG) from ­Canada to Asia. Analysts RBC called the update “reassuring”.

The shares rose 11p to 2330p.

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