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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 12:05 GMT
Shell reports record £9bn profit
The Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell has reported record annual profits of £9.04bn ($13.1bn), an increase of 85% from 1999.
The company said its profits had been boosted by higher prices for gas and oil and cost-cutting in its oil refining operations.
But the figures seem certain to add to pressure for a cut in prices at the petrol pump.
Shell shares were up 4p at 580.5p at 1115 GMT on Thursday, following the announcement.
'Volatile' oil prices
Shell said the price of Brent crude oil averaged $28.50 a barrel during 2000, compared with $17.95 a barrel in 1999.
The rise in prices had led to higher prices for motorists at the pumps.
Shell on Thursday warned that despite predictions of considerably lower oil prices this year, the situation remained uncertain.
"Oil prices climbed steadily during much of the year due to production restraints by the major oil exporting countries.
"These restraints prevented global oil stocks from recovering to normal seasonal levels.
"Uncertainty over both economic growth and oil supply mean crude prices are expected to remain volatile in 2001," the group said.
Fuel price protesters were unimpressed.
Dump the Pump campaigner Garry Russell said: "It is immoral. We are looking at a product that none of us can do without, petrol is an essential item.
"It is a sad day when oil companies are profiting in this way."
He said the government should raise taxes for oil companies so consumers faced less of a burden.
At present, about three quarters of the price of a litre of unleaded petrol is accounted for by taxes.
Shell has claimed that it has not made a profit selling petrol in the UK for three years while other industry groups say consumers' anger at high petrol prices should be directed at government.