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Shell hails progress in North Sea; Oil and gas: 'Strong start' to the year.

Byline: DAVID MCPHEE

Oil giant Shell cited a "strong start to 2019" as the reason for implementing a bullish share buyback programme.

The firm aims to repurchase shares worth nearly PS20 billion by the end of next year, with a second tranche expected to deliver PS2.1bn for investors over the next three months.

Pre-tax profits for the first quarter of 2019 rose to PS7.2bn, from PS6.3bn a year ago.

But under Shell's preferred performance measure, known as current cost of supplies earnings, profits fell by 7% to PS4.1bn, which the firm said reflected reduced chemicals and refining margins, weaker oil prices and lower tax credits.

Revenue for the latest period totalled PS64.3bn, down from PS68.5bn previously.

Chief financial officer Jessica Uhl said the Anglo-Dutch group had seen a "huge step up" in its North Sea performance amid renewed confidence in the region.

Three final investment decisions in the area had allowed the company to become a "more competitive business", she said, adding that Shell was also working hard on a "best outcome" for its mammoth Brent platform decommissionining project.

Ms Uhl said: "We've done everything we can to bring the right expertise to bear on our strategy on the Brent decommissioning. We now need to find the best solution for all parties."

David Barclay, head of office for wealth manager Brewin Dolphin in Aberdeen, said: "This is a relatively strong set of numbers from Shell, beating market expectations.

"Investors will be particularly pleased with the launch of the latest tranche of its share buyback programme.

"But they will be keeping a close eye on debt levels at the company, which remain stubbornly higher than management's 20% target."

CAPTION(S):

UPBEAT: Jessica Uhl of Shell, which is implementing a bullish share buyback

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Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Date:May 3, 2019
Words:297
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