BP and Shell post soaring profits


BP and Shell post soaring profits
BP's first quarter profit jumped 35 per cent to $7.6 billion (£3.8 billion) while Royal Dutch Shell posted a 25 per cent increase to $9 billion (£4.5 billion).

The companies have profited from the high price of crude oil, which passed the $100 a barrel mark in January and has since climbed to almost $120 a barrel.

Shell said first quarter oil products segment earnings were $2.34 billion (£1.18 billion) compared to $1.8 billion (£0.9 billion) for the same period last year.

Shell chief executive Jeroen van der Veer said: "Good operating performance, combined with increased oil and gas prices, offset the impact of downstream conditions in the first quarter 2008."

The company has recommended a first quarter dividend of $0.40 (20p) per share, an increase of 11 per cent over the US dollar dividend for the same period in 2007.

BP, meanwhile, is recommending a quarterly dividend of 13.525 cents (6.83p) per share, an increase of 31 per cent.

Looking forward, BP said it is increasing its refining capacity to further improve profits, while Shell is relying on new ventures in Qatar and Canada.

The strong results sent shares up in the companies on the FTSE. By 8:42, BP's share price stood at 605p, up 26.50p, while Royal Dutch Shell 'A' and Royal Dutch Shell 'B' shares saw rises of 79p and 90p to 2020p and 2013p respectively.

OPEC has blamed the high wholesale price of crude oil on the weak US dollar, volatile markets and speculators. A run of incidents affecting supply, including attacks on Nigerian refineries, also pushed prices higher this month.

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