Plummeting oil prices have put pressure on multinationals like Shell to cut costs

Shell to axe 6 500 jobs this year

Oil and gas firm Royal Dutch Shell will cut 6,500 jobs this year as it tries to cut costs to deal with an extended period of lower oil prices.

On top of the cuts from its nearly 100,000 employees, the Anglo-Dutch company said it would reduce 2015 capital investment for the second time this year to $30bn (£19.2bn) - down 20 per cent from a year ago.

Shell said it expects the downturn in oil prices, which contributed to a 37 percent drop in the oil and gas group's second-quarter profits, to last for several years and it is planning more asset disposals as it pushes ahead with its proposed $70bn acquisition of British oil and gas firm BG Group.

"We have to be resilient in a world where oil prices remain low for some time, whilst keeping an eye on recovery," Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said.

The big oil companies have cut 2015 spending by 10 to 15 per cent from 2014 to cope with a halving of oil prices over the past year to below $55 a barrel and Shell said its operating costs were expected to fall by $4bn, or around 10 per cent, in 2015 as part of a broad efficiency drive.

The company today announced the sale of a 33 per cent stake in the Showa Shell refinery in Japan to Idemitsu for about $1.4bn and it expects roughly $30bn of asset sales between 2016 and 2018 on top of a $20bn in asset disposals for 2014 and 2015 combined.

Shell is also waiting on key regulatory approvals for its deal to buy BG, which will turn Shell into the world's leading liquefied natural gas company and one of the largest deepwater oil producers with a focus on Brazil.

It wants to seal the agreement by early 2016 but while it has received clearance from Brazil, the United States and South Korea approvals from the European Union, China and Australia are still outstanding.

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