Royal Dutch Shell has reported a 15% slump in profits for the last quarter amid lower oil market prices and a weaker global economy.
The fossil fuel giant made $4.8bn (£3.65bn) in the last three months compared with $5.6bn in the same period last year and warned it may miss targets to reduce debt and pay back shareholders.
The results follow a sharp fall in profits at rival BP which reported profits of $2.3bn (£1.76bn) for the last three months on Tuesday, compared with $3.8bn in the same period last year.
Oil analysts expect company profits to be weaker across the industry after global oil prices fell to an average of $62 a barrel in the last quarter, from more than $75 a barrel a year ago, due to worries over whether a sluggish global economy.
Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, said weak macroeconomic conditions and a challenging outlook for the global economy and oil market prices “would inevitably create uncertainty” about the pace of Shell’s financial goals.
Shares in Shell fell 3% in early trading in London.
The company had planned to cut its debt to a quarter of its earnings, and spend $25bn buying back the shares it offered shareholders in lieu of dividends over recent years by the end of 2020.
Van Beurden said Shell would still aim to meet the goals, but raised doubts over the 2020 timeframe.
The uncertainty is a blow to his ambitions to create a “world class investment case” for the company while strengthening Shell’s “societal licence to operate” by helping to tackle climate change.
The oil giant has made bold promises to become the world’s biggest electricity company in a radical move towards clean energy.
But a Guardian investigation revealed earlier this month that Shell also plans to increase its fossil fuel output by 38% by 2030, by increasing its crude oil production by more than half and its gas production by over a quarter.
The fossil fuel binge is forecast to take place despite global efforts to limit global heating to 1.5C by the end of the next decade to prevent runaway climate chaos.
The company has produced on average 3.6m barrels of oil equivalent a day this year, in line with last year’s oil and gas production.