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Shell to halt share buybacks, reveals plans for spending cuts

Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden
Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden

Shell will curtail its share buyback programme and look for billions of pounds worth of savings in response to the oil price collapse.

The Anglo-Dutch firm today joined several other majors, including Equinor and Total, in outlining a series of measures to protect the business.

It will attempt to slash its annual operating costs by £2.5-3.4bn over the next 12 months and reduce its capital expenditure to £17bn or less for 2020, from a planned level of £21bn.

Those initiatives are expected to contribute £6.8-7.7bn of free cash flow on a pre-tax basis.

Shell said it was still committed to its divestment programme of more than £8.5bn of assets in 2019-20, but that the timing would depend on market conditions.

And Shell has decided not to continue with the next tranche of its share buyback programme, following the completion of the current £850 million tranche announced in January.

Chief executive Ben van Beurden said: “As well as protecting our staff and customers in this difficult time, we are also taking immediate steps to ensure the financial strength and resilience of our business.

“The combination of steeply falling oil demand and rapidly increasing supply may be unique, but Shell has weathered market volatility many times in the past.

“In these very tough conditions, I am very proud of our staff and contractors across the world for maintaining their focus on safe and reliable operations while also ensuring their own health and welfare and that of their families, communities and our customers.”

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