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Shell profits triple but low oil prices mean it's remaining 'very disciplined'

  • Revenue: $72.13 billion vs. expected $67.78 billion, according to Thomson Reuters
  • Net profit (on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis) $3.6 billion, up 245 percent from $1 billion for the second quarter of 2016.

Europe's largest oil firm Royal Dutch Shell beat analyst expectations on Thursday, reporting profits for its second quarter that were three times larger than at this time last year.

Here are the key second-quarter metrics:

  • Revenue: $72.13 billion vs. expected $67.78 billion, according to Thomson Reuters
  • Net profit (on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis) $3.6 billion, up 245 percent from $1 billion for the second quarter of 2016.
Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden
Adrian Dennis | AFP | Getty Images
Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden

Higher contributions from downstream (the refining of petroleum crude oil) driven by improved operational performance and stronger chemicals and refining industry conditions were one of the main reasons for the firm's performance. Upstream (oil exploration) also supported the results with higher prices and production in new fields, the company said.

Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer at Royal Dutch Shell said in a statement: "Cash generation has been resilient over four consecutive quarters, at an average oil price of just under $50 per barrel."

Indeed, low oil prices continue to be a drag to the sector with crude trading below $50 a barrel. Shell promised to "remain very disciplined" to avoid seeing earnings impacted by the low prices of oil.

The stock was up 0.4 percent at around 9 a.m. London time.

"This is another good quarter emphasizing greater consistency of delivery," Jon Rigby, analyst at UBS, said in a note on Thursday morning. The Swiss bank has a "buy" rating on the stock with a target price of 2,086 pence.

Resilience to oil prices

Amid the volatility in oil prices, Van Beurden did not want to make any specific predictions. Instead, he aimed to have a company that is resilient to market changes.

"It's very hard to predict," he said about oil prices, adding that the markets aren't "very transparent."

Shell's CEO told CNBC there's a lot of obsession with the oil price and that this is mainly driven by sentiment, not fundamentals. Nonetheless, he foresees an increase in oil prices next year, but did not want to be glued to the market changes. "We do not rely on that, we have to have a company that's resilient to oil prices," he said.