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Shell ‘transformation’ doubles profits as oil recovery takes hold

Jillian Ambrose

Royal Dutch Shell has doubled its profits following the oil major’s worst financial year in over a decade as the oil market recovery takes hold.

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant said the “transformation” following its 2016 mega-merger with BG Group and $30bn portfolio overhaul has reopened flows of cash back into the business as oil prices soared to over $65 a barrel last year, from under $30 a barrel at its lowest point in early 2016.

Shell’s earnings on a ‘current cost of supply’ (CCS) basis, which is a standard oil industry measure, more than doubled from the previous year to reach $15.8bn (£11bn) for 2017.

The earnings boom is narrowly higher than analysts prediction ahead of the results which were $15.7bn for 2017, from $7.2bn last year.

For the final quarter of last year alone Shell’s earnings reached $4.3bn, from less than $2bn in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, Shell has cut $8bn from its net debt, after nearing the end of an ambitious $30bn programme to sell off oil assets which are peripheral to the business. It said that $24bn worth of sales is complete and more than $6bn has been announced or is in advanced progress. 

Shell boss Ben Van Beurden said the results were due to a “relentless” focus on competitiveness, which has delivered $39bn in cash flows. These will help the company restart full dividend payouts for shareholders, many of whom have patiently accepted company shares in lieu of dividend payouts to help ease the burden on stretched oil major balance sheets during the downturn.

Shell said it would pay $0.47 per ordinary share for the fourth quarter of last year, and expects to deliver the same shareholder return in the first quarter of 2018.

Mr Van Beurden said: “2017 was a year of strong financial performance for Shell. A year of transformation, in which we showed we have what it takes to deliver a world-class investment case.”

He added: “We enter 2018 with continued discipline and confidence, committed to the delivery of strong returns and cash.”

Class B shares in Shell were down 2pc at £24.46 in early trading.

SOURCE

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