Kate Mackenzie Shell counts cost of lower oil price

Updated: Yesterday BP reported net profits were down 62 per cent, and today it is Shell’s turn to count the cost of lower oil prices with its first quarter profits down 58 per cent year-on-year.

And Peter Voser, who will take over as chief executive in July, is less optimistic than some commentators about the oil price outlook, saying he did not expect it to rise significantly in the next 12 to 18 months. “It will take time for the economy to recover, and hence the oil and gas price will be affected by that,” he told journalists on a conference call.

Shell’s $3.3bn (£4.85bn) profit beat analysts’ consensus forecasts of $2.6bn. However, as our story notes, Shell is failing to cover its capital spending programme and its dividend payments from its income, and its debt is rising accordingly.

Shell, like several of its super-major peers, has commited to maintaining its capital spending in 2009 despite the low oil price. In contrast to BP however, it has also promised to continue raising its dividend this year.

Related links:

Shell follows BP with 58% first quarter fall (FT, 29/04/09)
Shell Q1 statement
(Shell, 29/04/09)
BP’s 62 per cent profit drop sets tone for big oil (FT, 28/04/09)