Buoyed by an increase in the production of liquid petroleum and higher oil prices, Royal Dutch Shell plc (NYSE:RDS.A) posted a profit of $5.1 billion in the second quarter -- more than double the $2.4 billion it earned in the second quarter of 2013, according to quarterly numbers released by the company Thursday.
The Anglo-Dutch oil company’s second-quarter earnings, after accounting for fluctuations in oil prices, and excluding one-time items, stood at $6.1 billion -- a 33 percent increase over $4.6 billion in the second quarter of 2013.
In its exploration-and-production, or upstream, division, Shell reported earnings of $3.8 billion, up from $1.6 billion a year earlier. The company attributed the rise in profit to increased production in the Gulf of Mexico and Iraq.
However, the company stated that the half-yearly downstream, or refining business, was affected by “weaker refining industry conditions in Asia and Europe.” The downstream earnings in the first half of 2014 were reduced marginally to $2.9 billion against $3 billion in the first half of 2013.
Shell also announced a $1 billion write-down for impaired U.S. shale oil assets, many of which have been sold off.
“Shell completed the divestment of its 100 percent interest in approximately 106,000 net acres of the Eagle Ford liquids-rich shale assets to Sanchez Energy Corp (NYSE:SN) for a consideration of some $0.6 billion...Major divestments of non-core liquids-rich shales positions are now complete,” the report stated.
CEO Ben Van Beurden said in a statement that the company was “making progress with the priorities I set out at the start of 2014 -- to balance growth and returns by focusing on better financial performance, enhanced capital efficiency, and continued strong project delivery.”
He also announced that Shell would spend $7 billion to $8 billion in 2014 and 2015 combined to buy back the company's shares, “of which $1.6 billion were completed in the first half of this year (2014).”
“These expected buybacks and dividend distributions are expected to exceed $30 billion over the two-year period,” he said, adding that the company would be increasing the dividend payout to investors by 4 percent.