he coronavirus pandemic will change the world and the oil industry forever, oil and gas supermajor Shell said on Thursday as it slashed its dividend for the first time since World War II to preserve cash and value in a highly uncertain macroeconomic environment.
Shell reported on Thursday current cost of supplies (CCS) earnings excluding identified items—its proxy for net profit—of $2.957 billion for Q1, down by 46 percent on the year, reflecting lower realized oil, gas, and LNG prices, weaker realized refining and chemicals margins, and lower sales volumes.
While the earnings beat analyst estimates, Shell’s outlook was not optimistic at all, with chief executive Ben van Beurden saying that “The global economic decline and uncertain outlook may have a significant impact on our profitability, cashflow and our balance sheet.”
“And we are taking decisive action to reduce our spending, increase our liquidity and effectively position our business to manage through the deteriorating macro-economic and commodity price outlook,” Shell’s top executive said, adding that the group is cutting its quarterly dividend, beginning this quarter.
Shell is slashing its dividend to US$0.16 per A ordinary share and B ordinary share, down by 66 percent from the US$0.47 dividend for the same quarter last year.
This dividend cut is the first at Shell since World War II, reflecting the severe nature of the effect that the pandemic and demand collapse have had on Shell’s business.
Shares in Shell (NYSE: RDS.A) tanked by 12 percent at 10:09 EDT in New York, and its shares in London were also crashing by 12 percent at 15:09 London time.
“Given the continued deterioration in the macroeconomic outlook and the significant mid and long-term uncertainty, we are taking further prudent steps to bolster our resilience, underpin the strength of our balance sheet and support the long-term value creation of Shell,” van Beurden said.
There will be changes in people’s lifestyles, and the oil industry will never be the same, van Beurden said in an interview with Bloomberg Television after the release of the results. van Beurden later said at a press conference:
“We do not expect a recovery of oil prices or demand for our products in the medium term.”