Shell profits soar after oil price hike

ROYAL Dutch Shell's quarterly profits jump by nearly 50 per cent to $4.9bn (£3.2bn).

The oil giant said an increase in energy prices had fuelled the hike.

The figure was 49 per cent up on the same period last year.

Shell is in the process of a massive shake-up which includes 2,000 job cuts.

Up to $1bn in costs will be slashed in a re-structuring.

Chief executive Peter Voser said the turnaround in results for the first quarter of the year were "driven largely by our own actions", with growth in production and exploration of new oil fields.

But he was cautious about the oil price and his company's outlook for the rest of the year.

"So far in 2010, oil prices have remained firm, and demand for petrochemicals has increased, but refining margins, oil products demand and spot gas prices all remain under pressure," he said.

"Although there are signs of an improving economic outlook, we are not relying on it."

BP has reported profits of $5.6bn for the first quarter of 2010, up from $2.4bn last year.