NAKURU, KENYA – Royal Dutch Shell announced stronger-than-expected adjusted earnings of $7.31 billion for the final quarter of 2023, surpassing analysts’ expectations. The company cited strong liquefied natural gas trading and optimization margins as factors that offset weaker oil products trading.
As a result of the positive earnings, Shell announced a 4% increase in dividend per share for the fourth quarter and revealed a share buyback program of $3.5 billion to be carried out over the next three months. This followed the completion of a previous $3.5 billion share buyback announced in November of the previous year.
Shell’s CEO, Wael Sawan, expressed satisfaction with the company’s progress but acknowledged that there is still more work to be done. Addressing concerns about the balance between capital expenditure and investment in renewable energy, Sawan emphasized the company’s commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 and disclosed a $5.6 billion investment in “low-carbon” projects in the previous year.
Despite the positive earnings report, Shell reported a net debt of $43.5 billion by the end of the year, compared to $40.5 billion at the end of the third quarter, and cited impairment charges of $3.9 billion for the final three months of the year.
Energy analyst Jamie Maddock of Quilter Cheviot praised Shell’s resilience and expressed optimism about the company’s ability to thrive in the current unpredictable oil and gas market environment. As global oil and gas giants continue to report earnings, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron from the U.S., as well as BP and TotalEnergies from Europe, the outlook for the industry remains uncertain. Oil prices were higher on Thursday morning, with both Brent and WTI contracts having fallen around 10% in 2023 during a volatile trading year characterized by geopolitical tensions and demand concerns.