Royal Dutch Shell said Wednesday first quarter earnings fell 45 percent compared with a year earlier.

Shell said production fell sharply and the company took $2.9 billion in write-downs on marketing and refining units in Europe and Asia.

The company said it is monitoring the impact of Western sanctions against Russia.

Shell, based in the The Hague, said it earned $4.5 billion in the first quarter, compared with $8.2 billion a year earlier.

Excluding the one-time write-down of $2.9 billion and other extraordinary charges, earnings were $7.3 billion, down 3 percent from the same period last year.

Analysts were generally positive about the results and shares in the company were higher by nearly 5 percent in Europe after the earnings announcement.

Shell’s oil production in the quarter fell 9 percent compared with last year’s first quarter, to an average of 3.24 million barrels per day of oil equivalent.

Security problems in Nigeria and a government-ordered reduction of gas output in the Netherlands contributed to the production decline, Shell said.

Shell’s return on average capital employed fell to just 6.1 percent, compared with 13 percent a year earlier, the company said.

In Russia, Shell said it is continuing to work toward a potential expansion of the liquefied natural gas facility known as  Sakhalin II, where it partners with Gazprom


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