Oil giants Royal Dutch Shell and BP announced record profits for the first quarter of this year, driven by the surging price of crude oil.

Royal Dutch Shell says its first quarter net income jumped 25 percent to more than nine billion dollars.  BP says its profits soared 63 percent to about $7.6 billion.

Both companies said oil and gas production remained unchanged during the quarter.

Exxon Mobil is scheduled to report its first quarter results May 1.  Some economists expect the company will also announce record profits.

ConocoPhillips said April 24 its first quarter profit rose 17 percent to more than $4 billion.

Meanwhile, oil prices continued to ease downward from Monday's record high of almost $120 a barrel after British refinery workers ended a two-day strike.

The strike shut down production at the Grangemouth refinery and forced the closure of a North Sea oil pipeline, which carries about 40 percent of Britain's oil.

Investors have also been concerned about Nigeria, where a strike by oil workers and violence have taken a toll on oil production.  Royal Dutch Shell says militant attacks have forced it to suspend the production of about 164,000 barrels a day.

High oil prices are hurting some companies in the oil sector.

Valero, the largest oil refiner in the United States, blamed surging oil prices for a 77 percent drop in first quarter earnings.  The company says first quarter income fell to $261 million.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.