Gearing rose to 28.1% last quarter, double year-earlier level Debt ‘close to the maximum’ but may still climb, company says Royal Dutch Shell Plc is on the verge of breaching “comfortable” levels of debt as low crude prices force Europe’s largest oil company to borrow more. Net debt increased to a record $75 billion at the end of June from $70 billion three months earlier, Shell said Thursday as it reported a slump in second-quarter earnings. Additional borrowing drove up the ratio of net debt to capital, or gearing, to 28.1 percent — more than double the year-earlier level. “We’re close to the maximum level and it could go up still with the oil price where it is,” Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said on a conference call. “Thirty percent is an upper limit to where we can describe our position as comfortable.” Oil’s collapse over the past two […]