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Learning English - Words in the News
03 February, 2006 - Published 15:21 GMT
Shell makes record profits
Image of Shell petrol station
Shell has made record profits

The giant Anglo-Dutch oil company, Shell, has announced that it made record profits of almost twenty three billion dollars last year. Organisations representing motorists and consumers in Britain have criticised the company for making too much profit. This report from Mark Gregory:

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Big oil companies like Shell are doing well because international oil prices are so high. The value of crude is currently six times the level it was six years ago, and last year alone the price of oil went up forty percent. This has had a spectacular impact on the bottom line at the major oil producers. First off this week was America's Exxon Mobil which reported the highest annual profits of any company ever. Now Shell goes into the record books in a slightly lesser way with the biggest profit ever made by a firm listed on the London stock exchange.

BP, another oil giant, is about to follow with more gargantuan numbers, though its profits aren't expected to be quite as high as those at Shell. Meanwhile, consumers in many nations are struggling with near record fuel prices. Predictably this has stoked complaints of profiteering by the oil firms.

Some politicians in the US Congress have been calling for measures that address these concerns. They include Republicans as well as Democrats. The talk is of tougher rules on company mergers and abuses of market power within the US oil sector. The oil companies meanwhile say healthy profits are needed to fund investment in finding and developing new energy sources.

Investors however weren't impressed with Shell's record results - they were expecting an even better financial performance - and the company's share price has fallen.

Listen to the words

value of crude
price of oil before it has been processed

spectacular impact
very big effect

bottom line
the final profit or loss after subtracting expenses



people who buy things

selling something that is difficult to obtain at a high price

tougher rules on company mergers
more strict regulations about two companies becoming one

healthy profits are needed
large amounts of money have to be made


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