Oil giant Shell beats expectations with $9.6 billion in first-quarter profit

Shell reported adjusted earnings of $39.9 billion for the full-year 2022.
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British oil giant Shell on Thursday posted stronger-than-anticipated first-quarter profit, extending a record run of bumper results after commodity prices surged in 2022 following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Shell reported adjusted earnings of $9.6 billion for the first three months of the year, comfortably beating analyst expectations of $8.6 billion, according to Refinitiv.

The company posted adjusted earnings of $9.1 billion over the same period a year earlier and $9.8 billion for the final three months of 2022.

Shares of the oil major are little changed year-to-date.

Flush with cash, Shell held the rate of its share buyback program steady at $4 billion over the next three months and kept its dividend unchanged at $0.2875 per share.

Shell said its quarterly results reflected improved operational performance and lower costs to run its day-to-day business. It added that robust results from fuel trading and optimization offset the impact of weaker oil and gas prices.

The company reported first-quarter net debt of $44.2 billion, down from $48.5 billion when compared to the same period a year earlier.

Reflecting on the first-quarter earnings, CEO Wael Sawan said the company “delivered strong results and robust operational performance, against a backdrop of ongoing volatility, while continuing to provide vital supplies of secure energy.”

Shell’s results follow hot on the heels of U.K. rival BP, which on Tuesday reported a drop in first-quarter profit but beat analyst expectations on robust oil and gas trading. Shares of BP fell on the news, however, as the London-listed company said it planned to slim down its share buybacks.

A blockbuster 2022

Big Oil smashed previous annual profit records in 2022 during a period of volatile oil and gas prices in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

For its part, Shell posted adjusted earnings of $39.9 billion for the full-year 2022. That comfortably surpassed the $28.4 billion in 2008 which Shell said was the firm’s previous annual record and was more than double the firm’s full-year 2021 profit of $19.29 billion.

Big Oil executives have typically sought to defend their bumper profits amid a barrage of criticism, tending to highlight the importance of energy security in the transition away from fossil fuels and suggesting higher taxes could deter investment.

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, is the chief driver of the climate emergency.

Shell, which is aiming to become a net-zero emissions business by 2050, said that first-quarter adjusted earnings for its Renewable and Energy Solutions unit came in at $389 million, up from $293 million for the final three months of last year.