LONDON — Weak energy prices continue to take their toll, as profit dropped sharply at Europe’s largest company, .
Shell said on Wednesday that fell 89 percent from the same period in 2015, to $484 million. At Shell, the pain was widespread, with many business areas experiencing a drop in profit and the critical oil and gas production group seeing outright losses.
It is part of the broad financial fallout from the troubles in the oil patch. Energy prices are off nearly 40 percent in the past year, although they have stabilized somewhat of late. And the industry’s players, big and small, are scrambling to limit the damage.
Investors are watching closely for potential threats to the industry’s hefty payouts. Despite the earnings weakness, Shell held its dividend steady at 47 cents a share, or roughly 7 percent. The company’s stock price was off about 1 percent in European morning trading.
Shell faces a tricky balancing act this year.
The company just completed , a Britain-based oil and gas producer, a bet on the fast-growing liquefied industry. With BG in its business, Shell is now a global leader in liquefied natural gas, a fuel that is chilled to liquid form and transported on ships.
On a call with reporters, Simon Henry, Shell’s chief financial officer, said that BG had contributed about $200 million in earnings in the quarter. BG’s production, too, had grown by about 25 percent, as Australia and Brazil ramped up their output.
But that business is also facing some near-term headwinds, as Chinese demand slackens and competition increases. Profit in a group that includes liquefied natural gas dropped by 33 percent in the first quarter, to about $1 billion.
Shell’s decision to spend a large amount of money on a takeover at a time of weak oil and gas prices has been met with skepticism by some investors. But the company’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, argued that low prices provided an opportunity for financially strong players to strengthen themselves by swallowing weaker ones.
Mr. van Beurden appears to be following the acquisition with aggressive cost-cutting.
On Wednesday, Shell said that the deal would not lead to an increase in overall capital investment and operating expenditure compared with 2015. The company has already indicated that it will most likely close BG’s headquarters in Reading, just west of London, as well as the company’s office in Aberdeen, a North Sea oil hub.
“We will continue to manage spend through dynamic decision-making,” Mr. van Beurden said in a statement.
BG, the company has said, complements Shell’s existing portfolio of liquefied natural gas. And Shell argues that the company will be able to capitalize on additional sources of liquefied natural gas around the world, with BG’s leading positions in places like Brazil.
“It is still early days,” said Biraj Borkhataria, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets. “But encouragingly, capital spending and costs continue to come down.”