OIL giant Royal Dutch Shell yesterday joined the profits bonanza from record prices with a 71% jump in third-quarter earnings.
The firm made $10.9billion (£6.6bn) between July and September – a period when oil prices hit a peak above $147 a barrel.
The news — which is likely to prompt fresh calls for a windfall tax — comes two days after BP posted its biggest quarterly profits of £6.4billion.
Royal Dutch Shell posted the profits – a quarterly record and equivalent to nearly $72million a day – despite a 1% fall in production compared to last year.
This was due to factors such as the impact of hurricane damage in the Gulf of Mexico as well as maintenance work in the North Sea.
Oil prices have since fallen back to less than half their mid-July peak to trade at around $70 a barrel.
Chief executive Jeroen van der Veer – who called the results “satisfactory” – said the company was “robust across a wide range of oil prices”.
Even stripping out more than $2.8billion (£1.7bn) of exceptional gains from disposals and revalued oil and gas contracts, Shell’s “clean” profits of $8billion (£4.8bn) were well ahead of City forecasts of $7.2billion(£4.3bn).
Yesterday, Chancellor Alistair Darling said he wanted to see reductions in oil prices passed on to the consumer.
Shell’s profits from exploration and production jumped 65% to $5.5billion (£3.3bn) despite higher exploration costs and production disruption.
The hurricane season and shutdown of its St Fergus gas processing base cost it an estimated 120,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in production, the company added.