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Matt Clinch

It was a bruising day for Europe’s energy sector Thursday, with the full extent of the pain caused by low oil prices being laid bare in a series of earnings reports.

 

Anglo–Dutch multinational Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA-GB) reported a loss of $6.1 billion, compared with a gain of $5.3 billion for the same quarter a year ago, a decrease of 70 percent. This included a large $8.2 billion write-off due to a downward revision of its oil and gas price outlook and also a decision to halt projects in Alaska and Canada.

Oswald Clint, senior analyst at Bernstein, called these impairments a “necessary evil” which would allow a “new” Shell to emerge that could focus on natural gas and deep water drilling. James Sparrow, a credit specialist at BNP Paribas. called it a “kitchen sinking” exercise ahead of its merger with BG Group (@BGLFDC16J-GB).

The news didn’t stop there. French major Total (FP-FR) reported a 23 percent drop in third-quarter adjusted net income from the same quarter last year, although CEO Patrick Pouyanne spoke of “resilience” in the face of falling oil prices. Analysts were pleased with the results, too. Sparrow, called the numbers “encouraging” while Oswald noted that it had benefited from not having made any big investments into the U.S. shale sector.

 

 

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