Shell and Exxon: Differing Q1 fortunes

Royal Dutch Shell has announced a rise in profits as strong demand for energy keeps oil prices high - but rival Exxon saw oil production and profits fall.

Shell made $7.66bn (£4.74bn) in the first quarter , 11% more than last year.

At US giant Exxon, profits fell 11% to £9.5bn after oil production fell 5%. Production has been falling partly because some older fields are running short of oil.

Exxon also saw lower profits from chemical and refining businesses.

Exxon has been buying back shares, spending $5bn in the first quarter, and intends to buy back a similar amount in the second quarter.

Shell 'progress'

The oil price rose sharply from about $110 a barrel in the middle of January to $125 by middle of February. The price at the beginning of 2011 was below $100.

Shell warned that oil prices would be volatile in the coming months.

It added that asset sales this year were likely to total more than $4bn compared with its earlier estimate of $2bn-$3bn.

Earlier this week, Shell announced a deal to buy London-listed Cove Energy for £1.1bn in an attempt to tap into East Africa's gas reserves.

Shell's total revenue for the first quarter was $119.9bn, up 9% on a year earlier.

"We are making good progress against our targets to deliver a more competitive performance," said chief executive Peter Voser.

"Shell's first quarter 2012 earnings increased from year-ago levels, through a combination of improved operating performance, increased upstream volumes and strong oil prices."

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