Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Shell profits jump 77 per cent

Royal Dutch Shell cashed in on rising energy prices today as it reported profits of nearly £5 billion between April and the end of June.

The second quarter haul, which comes at a time of continued fuel price misery for British motorists, represented a jump of 77% on a year earlier.

The company said it benefited from a 49% rise in oil prices - partly caused by unrest in the Middle East and North Africa - as well as an improved operating performance, although asset sales meant production fell 2% in the period.

Today's figures, which were in line with market expectations, come two days after BP reported profits for the three months to June of £3.2 billion.

Shell chief executive Peter Voser defended the company's profits haul today as he pledged to deliver a "new wave" of production growth.

He said: "Shell reinvests its profits to meet customer demand for low cost energy, and to pay attractive returns to shareholders."

The oil and gas giant recently said it planned to invest 100 billion US dollars (£62.4 billion) on new projects over the next four years, including new projects in Qatar and Canada this year.

It has set a target of 3.7 million barrels of oil equivalent per day for 2014, an increase of 12% on 2010 levels, which it claims is among the highest growth rates in the sector.

Shell has also benefited from a turnaround in the profitability of its downstream operations, with quarterly profits up 28% on a year earlier to 1.88 billion US dollars (£1.15 billion) in the three months.

Mr Voser has responded to more difficult conditions in downstream through restructuring initiatives and has refocused the Anglo-Dutch firm's efforts on emerging growth markets.

The company also announced an agreement with property firms Canary Wharf and Qatari Diar to redevelop Shell Centre, its London home on the South Bank.

The well-known 1950s, 27-storey tower in the middle of the centre will be preserved and retained, with Shell due to take 210,000 sq ft of space in one of the new office buildings to be constructed on the site.

Discussions will now commence with planning authorities about the project, which will also comprise retail and residential space.