Royal Dutch Shell reported a 47% increase in profits Thursday, saying it earned $4.1 billion between July and September compared with $2.8 billion in the same period last year. The dividend remained unchanged at 47 cents a share.
Shell share price was almost unchanged on the day at 2,417 pence but was higher compared with 2,312 a month ago or 2,185 three months ago.
Like other major oil companies, during the last three years when the oil priced traded close to $40 /bbl, Shell adjusted its spending to the low oil price environment and cut expenses to the bone. Staff numbers were reduced, projects were put on hold and only the most profitable continued to move ahead.
While the company did spend $50 billion to buy BG Group in 2016 it sold a number of other assets including oil fields in the North Sea and Thailand and gas fields in Ireland to cut down its debt. Its net debt dropped to $67.7 billion at the end of the third quarter from $77.9 billion a year ago.
Shell share price reflects industry trend
Shell’s results reflect very much what is happening across the sector. BP, Exxon, Chevron and Total all reported an increase in profits in the last quarter of between 40-50% as a result of continued cuts and higher oil prices. This week oil traded at $60/bbl for the first time in three years.
Cost of production is going down
Going forward, changes made in the oil industry during the last three years will ensure that the cost of production remains lower than before 2014. Shell and its competitors all invested in technologies which helped them cut costs such as extending the life of wells, using big data to analyse and prevent potential production problems, using drone technology to replace staff doing repairs in difficult to reach locations, etc.
With the US and global economy continuing to grow slowly, oil demand is also set to rise, likely to lead to higher oil prices. The Shell share price and share prices of BP and other major oil producers are expected to reflect this in the months ahead.
To talk about the Shell share price and prices of shares in other major oil companies, make sure you register on our forum.