BG Group, the oil and gas explorer being bought by Shell, has reported a whopping 62% fall in profits in the first quarter as a result of collapsed oil prices.

The group said pretax profits were $715m (£463m, €638m) compared with $1.9bn in the same period a year earlier.

The group's exploration and production division saw revenues fall 56% in the quarter.

BG Group has agreed to a sale to Shell for £45.3bn which will complete next year.

Helge Lund, chief executive of BG, said: "Our growth assets in Brazil and Australia continued to ramp up, with production in each more than doubling year-on-year. We also started up the Knarr FPSO in Norway, however we produced fewer barrels in the UK than expected due to shut-ins.

"Our LNG business performed strongly. We delivered more cargoes and in our North American gas marketing business we demonstrated our ability to move swiftly to capture the benefits of the rise in US gas prices due to cold weather."

BG Group would continue to operate independently until completion of the Shell deal, which is expected in 2016.