Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) said third-quarter profit rose 31 percent, beating estimates, as earnings from refining and natural gas countered the impact of lower crude prices at Europe’s biggest oil company. Profit excluding one-time items and inventory changes increased to $5.8 billion from $4.5 billion a year earlier, the Hague-based company said today in a statement. That beat the $5.48 billion average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales fell 7 percent to $107.9 billion. Even as Shell’s oil production slumped and prices fell since June, a mix of better refining margins, lower spending and higher earnings from selling natural gas around the world bolstered profit. That contrasts with the company’s largest European competitors, BP Plc (BP/) and France ’s Total SA (FP) , which reported lower earnings this week. “Our results today show that we are delivering on three priorities I set out at the start […]