Royal Dutch Shell has suffered a hefty fall in full-year profits after lower oil prices and charges sent earnings down 88% in the final three months of 2019.

The oil giant reported a 36% drop in earnings attributable to shareholders to $15.3 billion (£11.8 billion) for 2019.

Big falls in the cost of crude and a large impairment charge hit its fourth-quarter results, with earnings plunging to $871 million (£670 million) against $7.3 billion (£5.6 billion) a year earlier.

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Chief executive Ben van Beurden said: "The strength of Shell's strategy and portfolio has enabled delivery of competitive cash flow performance in 2019 despite challenging macroeconomic conditions in refining and chemicals, as well as lower oil and gas prices.

"We generated $47 billion (£36 billion) in cash flow from operating activities excluding working capital movements and distributed over $25 billion (£19 billion) in dividends and share buybacks to our shareholders."

Lower oil prices were expected to hit the results while Shell had also already warned last month that annual figures would be hit by an impairment of up to $2.3 billion (£1.8 billion) for the year.

The group said on an underlying basis current cost of supplies earnings dropped 23% to $16.5 billion (£12.69 billion), with the fourth-quarter result down 48%.

It booked the biggest charge in its upstream arm, with a $1.6 billion (£1.2 billion) hit for unconventional gas assets in the US, as well as a host of other charges across the business.