Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A) has reported a 14% rise in fourth-quarter profits, as high oil prices continue to benefit Europe’s largest oil company.
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Crude prices averaged $109 per barrel last quarter, up from $88 a year before.
But the results were a disappointment, as the group was hit by industry-wide falling refining margins.
Peter Voser is Shell’s CEO:
“I think 2012 will see the ramp-up of our big projects, therefore you’ll get production growth. You’ll also get cash-flow growth and this is on the upstream side. I think downstream will be a little bit of a mixed bag, with pressure on the refining side. But clearly, on the marketing side, we’ll see a better performance than in the Q4.”
The company has just unveiled ambitious new growth plans, but concerns have surfaced about how much profit they will actually bring.
Shell says it will hike investments in order to drive a 25% rise in oil and gas production. Apart from a small rise in 2010, the group’s production has fallen every year since 2002.
Analysts say increasing investment expenditure means spending “more for less.”
Shell’s net income was almost $6.5 billion, helped by one-off gains from the sale of assets. The results fell shy of an average forecast of just over $5 billion.