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Gloucestershire Business News

Shell declares nearly $10bn profit

Oil and gas prices may be falling, but oil giant Shell today posted profits of £7.66bn ($9.6bn) for the first three months of 2023, a figure that out-strips forecasts as energy producers continue to record soaring financial figures.

Adjusted earnings for Shell exceeded the $9.13bn it made in the first quarter of 2022, when oil and gas prices surged in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. Industry analysts had predicted a figure of $7.96bn.

Shell said the figure follows "improved operational performance, lower underlying opex (operational expenditure) and better results in Chemicals & Products driven by trading and optimisation offsetting the impact of lower oil and gas prices, and higher tax compared with Q4 2022".

However, profits are lower than the $9.8bn Shell made in the final quarter of 2022, given the recent drop in oil and gas prices from their highs last summer.

Shell has indicated that it will funnel billions of this profit back to shareholders via a $4bn share buyback programme announced today. The move follows total shareholder distributions of $6.3bn in the first quarter of 2023, including a $4bn buyback programme.

Sharon Graham, general secretary of Unite, said: "The scale of profiteering displayed today by Shell and earlier this week BP is one of the corporate scandals of our times. And this is practically untouched by Rishi Sunak's so-called windfall tax."

With BP and Shell profits together amounting to a first quarter "bonanza" touching £11.7bn, she said that two of the "Masters of Big Oil" were "continuing to gather in obscene profits" and called for government intervention.

She added: "Actually it's time to consider something way beyond a windfall tax. Unite research has found that if the UK had a Norwegian tax take we would be earning at least £30 billion more from the North Sea than we are now. Not taking any action against "Big Oil" means the profiteering plundering will continue without end."

Shell's figures come in the wake of news from the Federation of Small Businesses that two in five small firms saw revenues fall over Q1, with only one in three seeing any increase.

A spokesman said: "Falling sales were an issue for many small firms over the first quarter. Two in five small businesses said their revenues fell over the course of the first three months of this year (41%), compared with one in three who said they had seen an increase in sales (34%)."

On inflation, yet another series high was reached, with 92% of small businesses saying their costs were higher than in the same period last year, with utilities the main culprit (cited by 63% of businesses whose costs had changed), followed by labour costs (45%), inputs (44%), and fuel (40%, although this was notably down from 54% in the previous quarter).

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