Sign from a Shell gas station
Sign from a Shell gas station - 
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Stacey Vanek-Smith: The prices of oil has dropped a bit in recent weeks, but it's still roughly double what it was this time last year. That's bad news for drivers and grocery shoppers and, well, bad news for most people. Good news, though, for oil companies. Earlier this week, British Oil Giant BP announced a 28 percent jump in profits. And today, three of Europe's largest oil companies reported stellar quarters. Including Royal Dutch Shell, which saw income tick up 33 percent. From London, Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: Shell says that high oil and natural gas prices helped it during a difficult period. Attacks on pipelines and other facilities in Nigeria cost the company 160,000 barrels a day. Shell has also lost out in Russia. Last year, it was pressured into giving up control of a major energy project there.

But Shell is well placed to develop other sources of energy. For example, it has already invested heavily in Canadian tar sands.

Jason Kenney is with the Dutch bank ING:

Jason Kenney : It does take a higher oil price to give you the good margins from these kind of assets, but you know, even today's oil price is significantly above what Shell needs on a cash break-even. So still good profits at the moment.

He says that by investing early in the tar sands, Shell is well ahead of the game.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.