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Shell fourth-quarter profit dives 75% – will axe another 1,000 jobs this year

AFP: LONDON — Energy giant Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday that fourth-quarter adjusted net profit slumped 75 percent due to weak demand in the downturn, adding it would axe 1,000 jobs amid an uncertain outlook.

Earnings tumbled to $1.18 billion (851 million euros) in the three months to December, compared with $4.8 billion in the same period of 2008, Shell said in a results statement.

For 2009 as a whole, adjusted net profit plunged 69 percent to $9.8 billion.

The London-listed energy major said it will axe another 1,000 jobs this year after cutting 5,000 positions over 2009 as it sought to ramp up efficiency.

Shell said it has targeted at least $1 billion of cost reductions for 2010, largely from downstream and corporate functions.

“Our fourth quarter 2009 results were impacted by the weak global economy,” Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said in the statement.

“Oil prices have increased compared to a year ago but gas prices and refining margins have declined sharply because of weaker demand and high industry inventory levels.

“We are not assuming that there will be a quick recovery and the outlook for 2010 is uncertain,” he said.

Production slid two percent during the fourth quarter to 3.331 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Voser said the group was positioning itself for “significant growth” in the years ahead.

“We are taking steps to improve our performance, to bridge the company, and our shareholders, into a period of significant growth in the coming years.”

The group added that it sold around $1.3 billion of non-core downstream assets in 2009.

Asset sales would continue this year, with 15 percent of its refining capacity placed under review, it added.

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