- Royal Dutch Shell has confirmed a 4% increase on its dividend per share payment to 17.35 cents for the first quarter of 2021, having made a strong start to the year.

The oil giant said earnings rose to $3.2 billion, up from $393 million in the final quarter of 2020. It has also generated more than $8 billion of cash in the first three months of the year, while reducing net debt by over $4billion to $71.3 billion during the same time period.

It is targeting a net debt figure of $65billion and said that once this milestone is achieved, it will aim to increase shareholder distributions to 20-30% of cash flow from operations.

Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Officer, Ben van Beurden: "Our integrated business model is ideally positioned to benefit from recovering demand. Our competitive and robust financial performance provides the platform to achieve the goals of our Powering Progress strategy.”

Shell's first quarter performance was a vast improvement on a tough 2020, which saw oil prices plummet to historic lows. Currently the oil price stands at around $67 - back near levels seen before the pandemic hit.

The FTSE blue chip had also warned of costs to the company of around $200 million as a result of the Texan winter storm that occurred in February. The storm, it said, had been covered by $400 million in provisions, but Shell admitted that it has had an impact on refining margins.

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