Shell earnings double amid crude prices recovery

Royal Dutch Shell more than doubled its earnings in the first three months of the year amid a bounce-back in the sector thanks to rising crude prices.

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden hailed a 'strong quarter' for the oil major. Picture: Ed Robinson/Newscast

The group said underlying earnings on a current-cost-of-supply basis surged to $3.8 billion (£3bn), up from $1.6bn a year earlier.

It follows an impressive first quarter for the sector, with rival BP revealing earlier this week it returned to profit with earnings of $1.4bn against losses of $485 million a year ago.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

US oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron also posted better-than-expected earnings last week thanks to a rebound in crude prices, which were more than 50 per cent higher in the first quarter than a year earlier, when they had hit near 13-year lows.

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden said it was a “strong quarter” for the group, adding that its takeover of smaller rival BG Group, which completed last year, was starting to pay off.

Shell has sold off about $20bn of assets since its acquisition of BG, while earnings have also been boosted by hefty cost-cutting over the past three years.

“The strategy we have outlined to deliver a world-class investment case is taking shape,” said van Beurden.

“Following the successful integration of BG, we are rapidly transforming Shell through the consistent and disciplined execution of our strategy.”

Shell’s upstream business, which includes exploration and production, swung out of the red with underlying earnings of $540m, against losses of $1.4bn a year earlier.

Its downstream business, which includes refining, saw underlying profits rise 24 per cent to $2.5bn.