Shell has revealed it is paying an extra $6bn (£4.7bn) to shareholders after its latest quarterly profits beat its own forecast.
The oil and gas major reported net profits of $9.6bn (£7.6bn) for the first three months of the year.
The figure was slightly lower than the sum achieved in the last quarter of 2022, but higher than the $9.1bn (£7.2bn) achieved in the same period a year earlier.
Its own estimate before the first quarter earnings report was $8bn (£6.3bn).
Shell said the performance reflected a cooling in oil and gas prices since the start of 2023 and higher taxes.
The headwinds, it reported, were partially offset by improved volumes and better performance from fuel trading and its chemicals and products division.
Its shareholder rewards – in the form of dividends and share buybacks – matched the amount given out in the previous quarter.
Shell said the $4 billion buyback program was to be completed by the end of the current second quarter.
The dividend of $0.2875 per share was the same as the amount paid for October-December.
While the profits made by companies like Shell and BP, which unveiled its figures earlier this weekare welcome to both investors and pension funds, they have also sparked much debate about whether they should pay more to the public purse through windfall taxes.
Shell said it took a $441m (£351m) accounting charge related to energy profits tax on its North Sea operations in the last quarter of 2022.
His total liability for the last calendar year was $134m (£106.6m) – of which $57m (£45.3m) was paid last year.
However, the discounts meant the net charge was $8m (£6.3m).
Chief Executive Wael Sawan told investors: “In the first quarter, Shell delivered strong results and operating performance, amid continued volatility, while continuing to deliver vital supplies of secure energy.
“We will launch a $4 billion share buyback program over the next three months as part of our commitment to deliver attractive returns to shareholders.”
The shares rose 3% at the open.