Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has posted its biggest profit haul for four years after earnings jumped 36 per cent on the back of firmer oil and gas prices.
Earnings for 2018 came in at $21.4 billion (£16.3bn). Its fourth-quarter profits rose 32 per cent to $5.7bn despite a recent cooling in the cost of crude, with higher gas prices helping to buoy the result.
On a reported basis, annual earnings attributable to shareholders nearly doubled, up 97 per cent to $23.8bn.
Chief executive Ben van Beurden said: “Shell delivered a very strong financial performance in 2018. We delivered on our promises for the year, including the completion of the $30bn divestment programme and starting up key growth projects while maintaining discipline on capital investment.”
As well as stronger oil prices throughout much of the year, the group – still a key North Sea player – also benefited from cost-cutting.
David Barclay, head of office at Brewin Dolphin Aberdeen, said: “Shell nearly doubled its income in 2018. However, to date, the company has underperformed on a rolling 12-month view: marginally against the oil price and FTSE-100, and more than 10 per cent against BP.
“Part of that can be put down to gearing sitting above its 20 per cent target, which investors will be pleased to see has reduced from 25 per cent in 2017 to 20.3 per cent.
“They will also welcome the launch of the next tranche of its share buy-back programme, about which many investors were on tenterhooks for updates.”