Shell posts record quarterly profit, lifted by energy price surge
LONDON (Reuters) -Shell on Thursday reported a record first-quarter profit of $9.13 billion, boosted by higher oil and gas prices, stellar refining profits and the strong performance of its trading division.
Shell joins sector rivals, including BP and TotalEnergies in making big profits from the commodity price volatility stoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24.
It beat its previous highest quarterly profits recorded in 2008 even after writing down $3.9 billion post-tax as a result of its decision to exit its operations in Russia. It is also winding down oil and gas trading with Russia.
Shell’s shares rose 2.6% in early trading, outperforming the 1.7% rise of an index of energy companies.
By the end of this year, Shell said it would stop all of its long-term Russian crude oil purchases, except two contracts with a “small, independent Russian producer” that it did not name.
Its contracts to import refined oil products from Russia will also end, it said, adding it still had running long-term contracts to buy Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Shell, the world’s largest LNG trader, said sales of the fuel rose by 9% in the quarter to 18.3 million tonnes. LNG is seen as crucial to ending Europe’s reliance on piped Russian natural gas.
The war in Ukraine “caused significant disruption to global energy markets and has shown that secure, reliable and affordable energy simply cannot be taken for granted,” Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said in a statement.
The European Union’s chief executive on Wednesday proposed a phased oil embargo on Russia that, if backed by member states would be a watershed for the world’s largest trading bloc given its dependence on Russian fuel.
Shell said that its dividend payments and share repurchases reached $5.4 billion in the quarter, part of its plan to buy back $8.5 billion shares in the first half of the year.
Its dividend rose to 25 cents per share as planned.
In the current environment, it said it expects shareholder distributions to exceed 30% of cashflow in the second half.
First-quarter adjusted earnings rose 43% from the previous quarter to $9.13 billion, above an average analyst forecast provided by the company for a $8.67 billion profit.
That compares with earnings of $3.23 billion a year earlier.
Boosted by strong refining margins, Shell’s adjusted earnings from refining and marketing refined products leapt to $1.17 billion from a loss of $130 million in the previous quarter and a profit of $781 million last year despite volumes falling to around 1.6 million bpd from 1.9 million.
Shell’s quarterly cashflow of $14.815 billion was hit by outflows of $7.4 billion as a result of changes in the value of oil and gas inventories.
The surge in revenue allowed Shell to cut its debt burden to $48.5 billion from $52.6 billion at the end of 2021.
(Reporting by Ron Bousso and Shadia NasrallaEditing by David Goodman and Barbara Lewis)