Shell doubles up on oil price boom

Hefty rise: Peter Voser-led Shell doubles profit in third quarter

Soaring oil prices doubled net profit at Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell in the third quarter.

The oil giant was even able to take a huge hike in its tax bill as revenues spiked and it kept expenses in check, while depreciation costs were chopped.

Chief executive, Peter Voser, also vowed that the company will continue to hive off non-core assets after selling off more than its full-year target of $5 billion worth of assets ahead of schedule.

Net profit for the three months to the end of September hit $7.03 billion as against $3.57 billion in the comparable period last year. This was still, however, down from the $8.76 billion garnered in the second quarter this year.

Revenues, although well up, did not record such a marked rise, warming from $90.71 billion to $123.41 billion. This was driven by a large year-on-year leap in average oil prices and the ramp-up of Shell's activity particularly in Qatar and Canada.

Upstream production, excluding divestments, rose 2% with LNG sales volumes up a whopping 12%, while the downstream segment benefited from increased earnings from chemicals sales.

Although revenues were up, Shell managed to keep production and manufacturing expenses at $6.76 billion as against $6.05 billion a year earlier. Selling, distribution and administrative expenses were actually down slightly to $3.52 billion.

A major reason behind the doubling in profit, however, was a huge reduction in Shell's depreciation bill from $6.2 billion to $3.8 billion, meaning the oil company was able to take the steep rise in its tax bill from $1.82 billion to $5.5 billion.

Inclusive of divestments, upstream production volumes actually fell off 2% in the period from 3.06 million barrels of oil equivalent per day to 3.01 Mmboepd, the the higher price of oil bolstered the top and bottom lines.

"Global liquids realisations were 48% higher than in the third quarter 2010," Shell's result statement read on Thursday. "Global natural gas realisations were 31% higher than in the same quarter a yearago. Natural gas realisations in the Americas increased by 1%, whereas natural gas realisations outside the Americas increased by 40%."

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