Royal Dutch Shell surprised the City with a 13 per cent fall in profits to £5.7bn yesterday, sending its shares down 2 per cent to the bottom of the FTSE 100 index.
Peter Voser, the chief executive of Europe's biggest oil major, pinned the blame on weaker oil and natural gas prices, saying: "The weaker oil and North American gas prices offset the benefit of increased upstream volumes and improved refining margins. Our industry continues to see significant energy price volatility as a result of economic and political developments."
In April Shell said maintenance work at some of its fields would cut extraction by about 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the second quarter. Shares in Shell fell 57p to 2,208p yesterday.
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