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Shell Throws Cash Fiesta for Shareholders as Profits Take a ‘Modest’ Dip

“As we enter 2024, we are continuing to simplify our organization with a focus on delivering more value with less emissions,” proclaimed Wael Sawan, Shell’s chief executive, presumably with a straight face.

Posted by John Donovan: 1 Feb 24

In the latest saga of “Billionaires at Play,” Shell, the oil behemoth with a heart of coal, has graciously announced a titanic profit of only $28.2 billion for 2023, a tear-jerking decrease from its 2022 high of $39.9 billion. Cue the violins, as this marks a somber moment in Shell’s 115-year history of environmental philanthropy.

As oil and gas prices took a nap last year, Shell’s profits decided to join them, resulting in a mere $7.3 billion in the last quarter, a figure that somehow still managed to exceed the low expectations of analysts. “As we enter 2024, we are continuing to simplify our organization with a focus on delivering more value with less emissions,” proclaimed Wael Sawan, Shell’s chief executive, presumably with a straight face.

Remember the days when energy prices had us checking our bank accounts with bated breath? Shell remembers. After all, they and their ilk were throwing a profit party with the record earnings made during the energy crisis spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But don’t worry, households still face high bills, ensuring that the spirit of generosity is alive and well.

In a display of unparalleled magnanimity, Shell confirmed it had contributed $802 million to the UK’s windfall tax kitty for 2022, a pittance compared to their profits but a gesture nonetheless. The amount for 2023 remains a closely guarded secret, likely to avoid causing widespread envy.

And now, the pièce de résistance: Shell has decided to return $23 billion to its shareholders because, in these trying times, it’s the shareholders who need the most support. Not to be content with mere pocket change, Shell is upping its dividend by 4% and launching a $3.5 billion share buyback program. Because what’s a few billion among friends?

Shell’s adjusted earnings took a humble bow, dropping to $28.3 billion for 2023, down a modest 29% from the previous year’s record. But fear not, for Shell revealed a 17% increase in adjusted profits for the fourth quarter, much to the delight of Greenpeace activists who, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm, held a “profit party” outside Shell’s headquarters.

Sawan couldn’t contain his excitement, saying, “Shell delivered another quarter of strong performance, concluding a year in which we made good progress across the targets outlined at our capital markets day.” Ah, the sweet sound of progress.

In a thrilling twist, Shell also hinted at future blockbusters, with talks of impairment charges up to $4.5 billion, thanks to such thrilling external developments as portfolio choices and the potential sale of its Singapore refining and chemicals hub. Stay tuned for more adventures in profitability, as Shell continues its noble quest to simplify its organization while delivering “more value with less emissions.” What a time to be alive!
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