SHELL continued to leave rival BP trailing in its wake as second quarter profits rocketed by 77pc to £4.9bn.

The large pre-tax figure smashed earnings of £4.2bn last year and means the Anglo-Dutch oil firm made an average £32.5m per day.
Shell’s vast improvement came despite a 2pc fall-off in production, as persistently high oil prices caused by political unrest in the Middle East helped swell the company’s coffers.

A barrel of Brent Crude sold for a little more than $118 yesterday, compared to $76 a year ago.

But chief executive Peter Voser warned that the company’s massive profits did not mean that consumers can expect lower prices at the petrol pump. He said profits were being funnelled back to shareholders, citing last year’s £6bn in dividend payouts.

The quarterly windfall was maintained at $0.42 per share and Voser added that one pound in every seven paid out in dividends in the UK now comes from Shell.

But the lion’s share of Shell’s vast profits are being used to fund a mammoth £61bn investment plan over five years, aimed largely at increasing production. The firm hailed the contribution of two new gas plants in Qatar and an oil sands venture in Canada, a trio of projects which have eaten up a substantial chunk of its capital expenditure.

The three businesses have cost some £18.4bn and made up the majority of a £3.7bn spend during the quarter. Shell said the three divisions had added 177,000 barrels a day to production and were on course to reach a target of 400,000 barrels by the end of the year.

Voser said Shell (up 1.5p to 2266.75p) was unlikely to take another look at buying BI> after the Mail revealed it considered an opportunistic bid last year, amid the Gulf of Mexico crisis.

Separately, Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar have signed a £300m deal with the oil firm to redevelop the Shell Centre in London.