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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

Energy major BP's second-quarter profits up by four times on last year

Increase in oil prices and fading of Deepwater Horizon fines pain boosts earnings for British multinational to $2.8bn

A BP oil platform in the North Sea. The firm has seen profits soar. Reuters
A BP oil platform in the North Sea. The firm has seen profits soar. Reuters

Higher oil prices and increased output boosted BP's second-quarter profit to $2.8 billion, four times that of a year ago.

The company also confirmed it would increase its quarterly dividend for the first time in nearly four years, offering 10.25 cents a share.

BP is turning a corner after the slump in oil prices and as it gradually shakes off a $65bn bill for penalties and clean up costs of the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

Underlying replacement cost profit, the company's definition of net income, exceeded forecasts of $2.7bn, according to a company-provided survey of analysts.

It earned $700 million a year earlier and $2.6bn in the first quarter.

First-half production rose to 3.662 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, including output at Rosneft, from 3,544 mboe/d a year ago.

Benchmark Brent crude futures, currently over $74 a barrel, have risen around 16 per cent over the first half of 2018 and around 60 per cent since June 30 2017.

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In its biggest deal in nearly 20 years, BP last week agreed to buy US shale oil and gas assets from global miner BHP Billiton, for $10.5bn, expanding the British oil major's footprint in oil-rich onshore basins.

BP is also buying back shares to the tune of $200m in the first half of this year.

In the second quarter, it paid off $700m for the spill on a post-tax basis.

Gearing, the ratio between debt and BP's market value, declined to 27.8 per cent at the end of the quarter from 28.1 per cent at the end of March. Net debt was $39.3bn at the end of June compared with $40bn at the end of March.

UPDATE:

BP's oil trading business made a small loss in the second quarter, chief financial officer Brian Gilvary told Reuters on Tuesday.

The world's biggest oil traders have counted hefty losses after a surprise doubling in the price discount of US light crude to benchmark Brent in just a month, as surging US production upended the market.

"It was a tough market to call. We're certainly not the only trading group that lost money in the second quarter," he said, adding that oil trading, which gets reported through BP's downstream business, had made losses twice before in the last five years.

"There were some specific positions around some particularly difficult market calls and we got the call wrong, it's as simple as that."

Over the first half, oil trading made a profit, Mr Gilvary said.

"It was about one specific position in one book where they made the wrong market call and actually they did a very good job of exiting that position," he said, declining to give further details.

Trading desks of oil major BP and merchants Vitol , Gunvor and Trafigura have recorded losses in the tens of millions of dollars each as a result of the "whipsaw" move when the spread reached more than $11.50 a barrel in June, insiders told Reuters.

Shell chief financial officer Jessica Uhl said last week that Shell's oil trading profits fell short of expectations in the first half of the year.

Mr Gilvary said he expected oil prices to stay within a $5 range around current prices for the next six months.

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