Big oil got bigger yesterday as Exxon Mobile and Shell reported the largest third-quarter profits in corporate history — a combined $18.9bn (£10.6bn) — within hours of each other yesterday.
Anglo-Dutch company Shell set the tone of the day for the oil business when it reported that its three-month net profit leapt 68 per cent to £9bn compared to last year, on sales of £94.7bn.
These were the highest quarterly profits in business history, but the company only held the record for six hours until America’s Exxon Mobile released its third-quarter figures.
The world’s largest oil producer posted a three-month net income up 75 per cent to $9.9bn on sales of $100.7bn.
Both companies identify the rising price of oil, which during the period reached an all-time high of $70.85, and high fuel refining margins for the hike in profits.
Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer said: “We captured the benefit of high oil and gas prices and refinery margins, even after the impact of hurricanes in America.” The Anglo-Dutch company’s profit was boosted by one-off gains of $1.6bn, mainly related to the sale of an interest in Dutch gas distributor Gasunie.
The five biggest oil companies in the world — Exxon, Shell, BP Chevron and Total — are expected to bring in combined profits in 2005 of $106.7bn, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.