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Shell raises dividend by almost 40% amid soaring oil prices

July 30/2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal Dutch Shell has raised its dividend almost 40 per cent and launched a USD2bn share buyback scheme, as the energy major takes advantage of stronger energy prices to try to attract back investors, said The Financial Times.

Thursdays moves, which came as the group reported a jump in second-quarter earnings helped by oils recovery above USD70 a barrel, were more aggressive than analysts had anticipated and show the pressure on energy majors to resurrect flagging share prices.

Frances TotalEnergies also reported strong results on Thursday with its highest half-year earnings in five years, and will use some of its cash flow for share buybacks. Investors remain wary of a sector that has been hard hit by two price slumps since 2015 while facing the long-term challenge of a possible peak in oil demand and increasing government action to tackle climate change.

Shells shares rose 3.5 per cent on Thursday but remain more than 40 per cent down from where they were two years ago, when oil prices were marginally lower. The company had said in April the dividend would probably remain unchanged for the rest of 2021 after raising it slightly at its previous earning report.

There is an element of confidence in raising the dividend, said Ben van Beurden, chief executive. "We felt that our dividend needed to be reset as the gap between our dividend payout and free cash flow was simply too large. We wanted to signal to the market the confidence we have in our prospects and cash flows by making it permanent."

Analysts said the focus on returning cash was an effort to demonstrate that the energy majors remain huge generators of free cash flow when energy prices are strong, with the ability to bolster payouts to yield-hungry investors. "Shells stepping up distributions is extremely positive," said Biraj Borkhataria at RBC Capital Markets.

Shells dividend will rise to 24 cents a share from the second quarter, although it remains well below its pre-pandemic level. Last year the company slashed it by two-thirds to 16 cents, the first reduction since the second world war, as pandemic-induced lockdowns hit energy demand and pushed oil prices below USD20 a barrel. The policy of increasing dividends 4 per cent a year remains unchanged, the company said.

The buybacks were more widely anticipated, with investors keen to see energy companies returning cash rather than raising investment. Many had predicted, however, that the buyback would be closer to USD1.5bn. Shell said it would keep holding capital expenditure below USD22bn for the year.  Oil and gas majors in Europe are trying to balance investor demand for higher returns and pressure to adjust their business models to align with climate goals.

Van Beurden said he was increasingly confident oil prices would remain strong in the medium term, partly resulting from under-investment in the sector, but indicated any increases to planned capital expenditure would be weighted towards the companys strategy of boosting cleaner fuels such as hydrogen.

In the second quarter, Shell reported adjusted net profit of $5.5bn, slightly ahead of analyst expectations of USD5bn and up from USD3.2bn in the first quarter. Cash flow from operations, excluding working capital movements, hit USD14.2bn in the second quarter, exceeding analyst expectations for USD12.1bn. Totals adjusted net income rose 15 per cent quarter-on-quarter to USD3.5bn.

As MRC informed earlier, Royal Dutch Shell closed the FCC unit at its Deer Park, TX facility on 18 July due to a fire. It is not known how long this facility will be closed with a capacity of 340,000 barrels per day and 90,000 tonnes of propylene per year.

Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 953,400 tonnes in the first five months of 2021, which virtually corresponded to the same figure a year earlier. High denisty polyethylene (HDPE) shipments decreased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market were 607,8900 tonnes in January-May 2021, up by 33% year on year. Shipments of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whereas deliveries of PP random copolymers decreased.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.
Author:Anna Larionova
Tags:petroleum products, crude oil, PP, PE, ethylene, propylene, neftegaz, petrochemistry, Shell, USA.
Category:General News
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