Shares in Royal Dutch Shell were up in morning trading on the FTSE 100 after the group said it had nearly doubled its earnings in the second quarter of the year.

The oil giant said that its earnings on a current cost supplies basis were $4.5 billion, up from $2.3 billion in the same period last year. On a half yearly basis earnings were up 67 per cent to $9.4 billion.

Cash flow in the second quarter was $8.1 billion up from a mere $919 million in the same quarter in the previous year, while net capital investment was $5.6 billion.

In total the company said it had paid $2.4 billion in dividends to shareholders before adding that its second quarter dividend would be $0.42 per share, flat from both the previous year and the previous quarter.

Peter Voser, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell, said, "We are delivering on our strategy. Shell's cost programmes have delivered over $3.5 billion of annualised underlying savings. Our investments have underpinned a 5% increase in oil and gas production for the quarter, a 34% increase in LNG sales volumes, and an 18% increase in chemicals sales volumes. This is a good performance from Shell, despite today's challenging macro economic conditions. We are on track for growth.

"We continue to see mixed signals in the global economy. Oil prices have remained firm so far this year, but refining margins, oil products demand and natural gas spot prices all remain under pressure. Our earnings and cashflow have rallied from 2009's lows, but the outlook remains uncertain."

Mr Voser also commented on the Gulf of Mexico disaster which led to rival BP announcing a record second quarter loss of $17 billion this week. "The BP Macondo blow-out and the related Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a tragedy for everyone affected. We were all shocked by the loss of life there, and the on-going and wide-spread impacts from the spill. World-wide deep water production has an important role to play in the global energy supply equation, with potential for production growth with supply diversity, and sustained investment in technology, jobs and services. The recent announcement of Shell's participation in a new, $1 billion Gulf of Mexico oil spill containment system, is an example of where we are working with governments and partners to improve the industry's capabilities. "

Richard Hunter, Head of UK Equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, commented, "Shell's update serves to underline the stark difference in fortunes of the UK's two oil majors.

"Whereas its fierce rival BP has been the subject of forced introspection, Shell has continued to drive its own prospects forward. Refining margins are improving, the restructuring programme continues apace and the proposed sale of assets will enable a more focused strategy in the future. Inevitably, there are headwinds, such as the clampdown on deep sea drilling in the US and the ongoing uncertainty with regards to the global economic recovery. As such, management guidance was cautious although the company has hitherto continued to deliver.

"For income investors, the attractions of a 6.2% dividend yield are obvious in the current interest rate environment, whilst Shell's cash generative ability leaves it strongly placed for further appreciation. The shares have not necessarily kept up with events of late, shedding 13% over the last three months as the wider FTSE100 lost 5%. Even so, market consensus is that Shell is the preferred play in the sector at present, with the general view coming in as a buy."

By 09:50 Royal Dutch Shell "A" shares were up 0.34 per cent to 1,793.00 on the FTSE 100 while "B" shares were up 0.73 per cent to 1,719.50 pence per share.