Shell profits soar on higher oil prices

Royal Dutch Shell has posted its highest quarterly profit for at least three years thanks to resurgent oil prices.

The oil giant reported a 42% rise in underlying quarterly profits to 5.3 billion US dollars (£3.8 billion) for the first three months of the year.

Bottom-line profits surged 69% to 5.7 billion US dollars (£4.1 billion).

The group's results are being buoyed by resurgent oil prices, higher production and years of cost cutting.

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said: "Shell's strong earnings this quarter were underpinned by higher oil and gas prices, the continued growth and very good performance of our integrated gas business, and improved profitability in our upstream business."

He added the group was "making good progress" with its 30 billion US dollar (£21.5 billion) divestment programme, having completed 26 billion US dollars (£18.7 billion) so far.

The programme was launched in 2016 to help pay down debt taken on for its 50 billion US dollar (£36 billion) buyout of BG Group.

Oil prices have been bouncing back over the past year, helping Shell triple bottom-line profits to £8.5 billion in 2017.

Oil briefly reached above 75 US dollars a barrel this week and there are predictions it could reach 100 US dollars amid geopolitical tensions.