Oil giant Shell extends share buyback as profits slip

North Sea giant Royal Dutch Shell's profits fell by more than a quarter in the three months to the end of June, as lower oil prices weighed on earnings.

Chief executive Ben van Beurden pointed to 'challenging macroeconomic conditions'. Picture: Eric Piermont/Getty Images
Chief executive Ben van Beurden pointed to 'challenging macroeconomic conditions'. Picture: Eric Piermont/Getty Images

For the second quarter, earnings slid 26 per cent to under $3.5 billion (£2.9bn). In total, first-half earnings dropped 13 per cent to $8.8bn.

The oil major said it had suffered from weaker pricing in the industry.

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Total production increased by 4 per cent in the second quarter to 3.6 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, but in the same period liquid prices were 8 per cent lower and gas prices were down 13 per cent.

Chief executive Ben van Beurden said: "We have delivered good cash flow performance, despite earnings volatility, in a quarter that has seen challenging macroeconomic conditions in refining and chemicals as well as lower gas prices."

Dividends were left unchanged at 94 cents per share for the first half.

The group also said it would launch the third tranche of its share buyback programme, with repurchases set to total $2.75bn over the next quarter.

Since the launch of the share buyback programme in October, Shell has bought back 294 million "A" shares for $9.25bn. The $25bn share buyback is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

In June, bosses also revealed plans to hand over a bumper $125bn to shareholders over five years, after selling non-core businesses.

David Barclay, head of office at Brewin Dolphin Aberdeen, said: "Investors had been expecting a pay out from Royal Dutch Shell and it arrived today through the $2.75bn extension of its share buyback programme.

"The oil major has returned large amounts of cash to shareholders in recent years, as it transitions towards a low-carbon future and a volatile trading environment.

"The latter has seen income and profits tumble at Royal Dutch Shell in the second quarter of 2019, which will be a concern for many watchers of the company – cash flow and gearing have also gone in the wrong direction and will be the other major areas to keep an eye on in the months ahead."