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Shell blames weaker market, higher costs for reduced 4th Q profits

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Royal Dutch Shell is warning the financial community it's fourth quarter results won't be as rosy as they'd expected.

In a release issued Jan. 17, the company said it expects fourth quarter numbers to be "significantly lower than recent levels of profitability, considering current oil and gas prices and the downstream oil products industry environment."

The company blames weak industry conditions in downstream oil products, higher exploration expenses and lower upstream volumes.

"Our 2013 performance was not what I expect from Shell," said Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden. "Our focus will be on improving Shell's financial results, achieving better capital efficiency and on continuing to strengthen our operational performance and project delivery."

Shell said it expects cash flow from operating activities in the fourth quarter to be around $6 billion, or roughly $40.4 billion for all of 2013. Likewise, net capital investment for the fourth quarter is expected to be about $15.8 billion and $44.3 billion for all of 2013.