Royal Dutch Shell pushed into loss by charges

Royal Dutch Shell has reported a loss for the third quarter of the year, after taking a big charge to reflect the cost of halting major projects.

The oil company reported a loss of $6.1bn (4bn) in the quarter, compared with a $5.3bn profit last year.

It has taken an $8.6bn charge to cover the cost of halting projects such as Alaskan drilling and the Carmon Creek oil sands project in Canada.

The charges also reflect its lower predictions for the oil and gas prices.
‘Difficult decisions’

Shell announced last month that its was stopping Arctic oil and gas exploration off the coast of Alaska “for the foreseeable future” after “disappointing” results.

On Tuesday, Shell said it would not continue building its Carmon Creek thermal oil sands project in northern Alberta.

It blamed the decision on a lack of infrastructure to transport the oil and the need to manage costs given the low oil price.

Chief executive Ben van Beurden said these were “difficult, but impactful decisions”.

“I am determined that Shell will become a more focused and competitive company as a result.”

In April, Shell announced it had agreed to buy oil and gas exploration firm BG Group in a deal that values the business at 47bn.
Heavy losses

Mr van Beurden said: “The BG deal, which remains on track for completion in early 2016, is a springboard to focus Shell into fewer and more profitable themes, especially deep water and integrated gas.”

Shell has decided to maintain its dividend to shareholders despite reporting heavy losses.

It is the latest oil company to report that it’s cutting back on investment.

Earlier in the week, BP cut its capital spending for the third quarter to $4.3bn from $5.3bn in the same period last year while Statoil also cut $1bn from its investment plans.

Shares in Shell dropped 1.5% in early trading on Thursday, while BP was down 1.3%