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Refining underpins Shell profit as output stalls
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Sunday, 04 Nov 2012

Reuters reported that Royal Dutch Shell seen as having some of the best output growth assets in the business joined its peers in suffering lower production in the Q3.

Profits came in ahead of expectations thanks to the temporary strength in refining margins that have masked a poor quarter so far in terms of pointers for the long term prospects of the world’s top oil companies.

Shell reported current cost of supply net profit of USD 6.1 billion down from USD 7.2 billion per year ago. Stripping out the charges based on an asset write down for weak US gas prices, UK tax changes and other factors the result was USD 6.6 billion ahead of analysts predictions of USD 6.3 billion with better than expected refining margins delivering most of the outperformance.

Mr Peter Hutton analyst of Royal Bank of Canada said that “The upstream was profit delivered as everybody had expected but beneath that volumes are actually quite weak below 3 million barrels a day for the first time in three years in what’s supposed to be a growth year.”

Production shut ins in Nigeria due to security breaches there contributed to a fall in global liquids production of 5%. Gas output fell 4%. Even accounting for these factors and other one offs, Shell’s oil and gas output grew only 1%t. The struggle for output growth has been a feature of the Q3 earnings season for all the top oil companies so far.

Shell said that the net charge for the quarter, at USD 432 million against a net gain of USD 245 million a year earlier also included USD 134 million for legal and environmental provisions. Shell paid out a Q3 dividend of 0.43 cents, unchanged from the Q2 and against 0.42 a year ago. Some analysts said Shell’s US impairment charge might have been worse.

Mr Cheuvreux analyst Dominique Patry said that “Impairments were more limited than some could have feared. Given Shell’s position onshore gas in the US and given competitors’ massive write down in Q2 2012 some feared that Shell would have to carry the same exercise.”

Source - Reuters


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