BP profit beats estimates even as oil-spill burden lifts debt

Anna Jefferson
May 2, 2018

Reported oil and gas production was 3.7 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in the quarter, 6% higher than the first quarter of 2017.

Tuesday's solid first-quarter results could go some way toward convincing investors that BP's ambitious plan to regain its position among the world's top energy companies is gaining steam.

BP said its upstream operations - which cover exploration and production - enjoyed the best quarter since the third quarter of 2014, with underlying profits more than doubling to 3.2 billion USA dollars (£2.3 billion).

"Moving through 2018, we're determined to keep delivering our operational targets and maintaining capital discipline while growing cash flow and returns", Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said in a statement.

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He added: "Our safe and reliable operations and strong financial delivery have continued into 2018".

BP's results follow a mixed picture from the sector with Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L and Exxon Mobil XOM.N falling short of forecasts while results from Chevron CVX.N and France's Total TOTF.PA were stronger than expected.

Operating cash flow excluding payments made following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico stood at $5.4bn, including a $1.8bn negative impact from an increase in working capitals.

Helping boost the bottom line was BP's upstream business which posted an underlying recurring cost profit, before interest and tax, of almost $3.2 billion, up from less than $1.4 billion over the first quarter of 2017.

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"The market seems satisfied for now by assurances that this will represent the peak for outflows relating to the disaster, but if this is not in evidence later in the year, BP may be in for harsher treatment". Shares rose 1.2 per cent to 544.5 pence at 8.19 am in London.

BP posted a profit of almost $2.5 billion for the first quarter of the year, rising from a profit of just over $1.4 billion over the same period last year.

Continued Downstream earnings growth with strong refining availability in the US. BP left the dividend unchanged at 10 cents a share.

"It's not only about the oil price, it is also about the performance of the kit", Gilvary said.

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The bill included a final $1.2bn payment as part of a $20bn settlement with the US Department of Justice, but the giant still has a number of smaller legal bills to pay. Payments are expected to be just over $3 billion in 2018, weighted to the first half of the year.

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