Royal Dutch Shell
Royal Dutch Shell reported a 56% fall in profits in the first quarterReuters

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell reported net income in the first quarter of $3.2bn (£2.07bn, €2.87bn) a 56% fall compared to the same period last year but better than analysts had expected.

The oil major has been hurt by the collapse of oil prices, which have fallen by around 50% since last summer.

Profits in Shell's refining and trading reached $2.65bn in the first quarter, up form $1.58bn in the same period in 2014.

"Our results reflect the strength of our integrated business activities, against a backdrop of lower oil prices," said Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden.

Shell has sold off more than $2bn in global assets this year alone, as it seeks to reduce costs and keep its most profitable assets, the company said.

The company announced a $15bn cost-cutting plan in January to help protect itself against the climate of lower oil prices.

Brent was trading around $65 a barrel on Thursday in London, just over half the peak price reached in June 2014.

Oil prices fell amid a global supply hike, brought on by the expansion of US shale oil production.