Shell hails one of best ever quarters as earnings leap 37%

Royal Dutch Shell has cheered one of its “strongest ever quarters” as surging oil prices drove earnings up 37%.

The oil giant reported underlying earnings, on a current cost of supplies basis, of 5.6 billion US dollars (£4.4 billion) for the three months to the end of September.

On a reported basis, earnings jumped 51% to 5.57 billion US dollars (£4.33 billion).

Shell also said it would buy up to 2.5 billion US dollars (£1.9 billion) of shares in the second tranche of its buyback programme.

The group first launched the share buyout plan in July, having promised the move to investors since Shell bought rival BG Group in a mammoth 54 billion US dollar (£42 billion) deal in 2016.

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said: “Good operational delivery across all Shell businesses produced one of our strongest-ever quarters, with cash flow from operations of 14.7 billion US dollars (£11.4 billion), excluding working capital movements.”

“Our strong financial performance allowed us to cover the cash dividend, interest payments, share buybacks and to further pay down debt,” he added.

The third-quarter rise also marks an improvement on the 4.7 billion US dollars (£3.7 billion) reported in the second quarter.

But the latest result was still lower than expected by most analysts.

Shell also said it was on track with its asset sales, with the group focusing on an ambitious cost-cutting drive and a 30 billion US dollar (£23 billion) divestment initiative since the industry has been buffeted by the 2014 oil price crash.

It has so far completed 28 billion US dollars (£22 billion) of the programme and has signed off on another 4 billion US dollars (£3 billion).

Firms in the sector have been riding high on the back of the rising cost of crude.

Since January, the price of Brent crude has risen from 66 US dollars a barrel to 76 US dollars today.

Rival blue chip oil firm BP said on Tuesday that it more than doubled profits in the third quarter to 3.8 billion US dollars (£2.9 billion), up from 1.86 billion US dollars (£1.4 billion) a year earlier.

In its update, Shell said production during the quarter rose 2% to 3.6 million barrels of oil equivalent a day.

It also announced a second quarter dividend of 47 cents (37p) per share.