Shell reports the financial impact of gas market swings and the hurricane

Shell reports the financial impact of gas market swings and the hurricane

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said the events of a turbulent third quarter, from big swings in gas and power prices to a hurricane, will have a significant impact on its financials.

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Highlights

  • There are signs that Shell’s gas trading operations were on the right side of these trends. The company’s trading update “should be well-received” as output volumes were impacted less than expected, analysts at Jefferies said in a note. “The focus will be on the positive drivers of cash flow generation during the quarter,” the bank said.

  • The company gave a first glimpse of what’s likely to be an unpredictable set of earnings for the oil majors. From Europe to Asia, there has been unprecedented volatility in the prices of commodities from gas and coal to metals and food products.

The company’s trading division, a secretive operation for which earnings are particularly hard to forecast, is expected to have higher results from gas than in the second quarter, according to Shell’s statement. Margins will be lower from chemicals and higher in refining.

Cash flow from operations will be boosted “significantly” by higher margin inflows related to surging power and gas prices, Shell said in a statement on Thursday. On the flip-side, Hurricane Ida, which shut down a swathe of oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, will have an aggregate adverse impact on adjusted earnings of $400 million.

An increase of $1 per million British thermal units in the price of Europe’s gas benchmark, the TTF based in the Netherlands, typically boosts Shell’s adjusted earnings by $150 million, the company said. The front-month TTF contract jumped by more than $18 in the third quarter and has risen higher since, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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“We see the statement as constructive, primarily due to the comments around improved LNG trading this quarter,” RBC analyst Biraj Borkhataria wrote in a note. However, its third-quarter trading performance is likely to be higher than in the previous three-month period, Borkhataria said. (Updates with analyst comments from third paragraph.)

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