LONDON (AFP, REUTERS) – British energy giant Shell said on Thursday (July 28) that its second-quarter profit rocketed to US$18 billion, smashing its previous record just three months earlier, as it rewarded shareholders with another bumper stock buyback.

The surge in net profit in the three months to June was partially attributable to a reversal of US$4.3 billion in impairments after the company raised its medium- and long-term forecasts for gas and oil prices.

“In the second quarter of 2022, we delivered strong financial results,” said chief executive Ben van Beurden in video comments published alongside the results statement.

The London-listed energy major also announced another US$6 billion share buyback programme, having already returned US$8.5 billion to shareholders earlier this year.

But Mr van Beurden also warned that with “volatile energy markets, economic turbulence and the ongoing need for action to tackle climate change, 2022 continues to present challenges to consumers, to government, and to companies”.

Shell had rebounded into a US$3.4 billion profit in the second quarter of 2021 from a US$18.1 billion loss in the same period of 2020 when it took a massive impairment charge due to the Covid-19-ravaged oil market.

However, oil and gas prices have surged this year owing to the Ukraine war and after countries lifted pandemic lockdowns.

Gas prices, which skyrocketed in March after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, are soaring once more this week after Moscow curbed crucial deliveries to Europe in recent days.

The Ukraine war has, meanwhile, sparked an exodus of Western energy companies from Russia, including Shell and its British rival BP.

Earlier this year, Shell logged a first-quarter profit of US$7.1 billion, despite taking a US$3.9 billion charge linked to its withdrawal from Russian activities.

French rival TotalEnergies also reported on Thursday a record profit of US$9.8 billion in the quarter and accelerated its buyback programme.

Norway’s Equinor raised its special dividend and boosted share buyback on Wednesday.

US rivals Exxon Mobil and Chevron report results on Friday.

Oil and gas prices remained elevated in the quarter, with benchmark Brent crude averaging about US$114 a barrel. Benchmark European natural gas prices and global liquefied natural gas prices averaged an all-time high in the quarter.