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Shell hit by Gulf of Mexico drilling moratorium

More losses are expected in the next quarter and in 2011.

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell has expressed its anxiety regarding the impact of the two-year drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico as it reported its third-quarter results on Thursday.

The company saw an 18 per cent increase in profits in the three months to September at £2.2bn from £1.6bn in the corresponding period last year, exceeding predictions by analysts.

Shell's chief financial officer Simon Henry said that the company had incurred a charge of £72m in the quarter due to the ban which forced the firm to leave its rigs idle and postpone several exploration projects.

He added that more losses were expected in the next quarter and in 2011.

"The moratorium and the delay to our drilling programme is an opportunity lost. We can't drill the well, so we can't bring the production up. Maybe we can catch up a bit next year, but we can't count on that," said Henry.

In addition he said that Shell would be reformulating plans to hike production by 40,000 barrels in the next year.