Page last updated at 06:32 GMT, Wednesday, 28 April 2010 07:32 UK

Royal Dutch Shell profits up 50% on oil price

Shell petrol pumps
Higher prices at the pump have help boost Shell's profits

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has seen its quarterly profits jump by nearly 50% thanks to higher oil prices.

The Anglo-Dutch company said profits for the first three months of the year were $4.9bn (£3.2bn) - up 49% on the same period last year.

Shell said higher energy prices and growth in its business had helped boost profits from "low levels" seen at the end of last year.

Profits for the last three months of 2009 were $1.2bn.

Those poor results prompted Shell to announce plans to cut 2,000 jobs before the end of 2010, helping to cut a planned $1bn in costs.

Shell's chief executive Peter Voser said the turnaround in results for the first quarter of the year were "driven largely by our own actions", citing growth in production and exploration of new oil fields.

But oil price rises on the international markets have also played their part.

The average cost of a barrel of oil for the first three months of the year was $76. That compares with an average price of $41 a year ago.

However, Mr Voser said the outlook for the company this year was "mixed", despite signs that oil demand will increase as the global economy continues to recover from recession.

"So far in 2010, oil prices have remained firm, and demand for petrochemicals has increased, but refining margins, oil products demand and spot gas prices all remain under pressure," he said.

"Although there are signs of an improving economic outlook, we are not relying on it."

On Tuesday, rival BP reported profits of $5.6bn for the first quarter of 2010, up from $2.4bn in the same period last year.

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