Shell, Europe’s largest energy company, reported on Thursday its biggest ever quarterly profit, reflecting high prices for oil and natural gas spurred by the war in Ukraine and tightness in world energy markets.
The company’s adjusted earnings of $9.1 billion for the January-March period were almost triple the $3.2 billion it earned in the same period a year earlier.
Shell also said that it would increase the pace of share buybacks in the second quarter, to $4.5 billion, compared with $4 billion for the first quarter, and that it would raise the dividend by 4 percent, to 25 cents per share.
Beyond high energy prices, Shell took advantage of the volatility in the markets to rake in trading profits. It also cut costs deeply during the pandemic, enhancing profit now that prices and sales volumes have risen.
In a statement, Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, appeared to suggest that the disruption from the war in Ukraine had demonstrated that there was still a need for strong oil and gas businesses despite pressures to tackle climate change.
The war, he said, “has shown that secure, reliable and affordable energy simply cannot be taken for granted.”
Profiting from short supply in diesel and other refined products, Shell’s refining and chemicals units earned $1.2 billion for the quarter, a 50 percent increase from the same period in 2021.
Shell has announced that it is gradually withdrawing from oil and gas activities in Russia. On Thursday, the company said it was taking $4.2 billion in pretax write-offs on those businesses. The charges included $1.1 billion on the loan it extended to build the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, which has now been blocked, and $1.6 billion related to the company’s 27.5 percent ownership of a liquefied natural gas facility on Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East.
The surge in energy prices has produced bumper earnings for oil companies. On Tuesday, BP reported its highest profit in a decade, more than doubling the figure from a year before.