Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Shell gains from high oil prices

Shell petrol pumps
Record oil prices have boosted Shell's profits

Oil firm Royal Dutch Shell has reported a 71% jump in its third-quarter profits, helped by record high oil prices earlier this year.

Shell earned $10.9bn (6.6bn) between July and September - up from $6.4bn a year earlier.

Crude oil prices reached a record of $147 a barrel in July, but have since fallen back sharply.

Earlier this week, rival BP reported that its profits during the same period had more than doubled to $10bn.

On Wednesday, Shell announced that its chief financial officer, Peter Voser, would replace current chief executive Jeroen van der Veer when he retires next July.

The appointment of Mr Voser, who is Swiss, means that that Shell, which has dual headquarters in London and The Hague, will for the first time be led by somebody who is not either Dutch or British.

The firm also said it was to delay a decision on whether to expand a Canadian oil sands project, with falling oil prices raising doubts about the viability of the scheme.

Asset sales

2004 to present - chief financial officer for Shell
2002-2004 - chief financial officer for engineers Asea Brown Boveri
1982-2002 - worked for Shell in Switzerland, UK, Argentina, and Chile
1982 - graduated from University of Applied Sciences, Zurich

Shell said its third-quarter profits - on a current cost of supply basis which strips out fluctuations in prices - were boosted by both record oil prices and asset sales, which outweighed a slight drop in oil and gas production.

Mr van der Veer said: "We are watching the world economic situation closely. Shell is robust across a wide range of energy prices."

He added: "Our strategy remains to pay competitive and pay progressive dividends, and to make significant investments in the company for future profitability."

The third-quarter $10.9bn profit included a one-off gain of $2.06bn, which came mainly from the sale of Shell's German gas network, BEB Erdgas und Erdoel.

Shell said its oil and gas production fell because of the impact of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, a lack of new fields starting up, and production-sharing contracts under which it receives less oil from projects when prices rise.

Referring to the recent falls in crude oil prices, Chancellor Alistair Darling said he wanted to see the reductions passed on to motorists in the form of cheaper fuel.

"I want the oil companies to pass on these reductions to the pumps as soon as possible, because people are entitled to see the benefits," he said.

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