A BP petrol station in Zurich, Switzerland. Investors welcomed the good quarterly figures, with BP’s shares showing a gain of 3.5 per cent at 519 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Image Credit: Reuters

LONDON

British energy major BP on Tuesday logged a modest increase in third-quarter net profit, energised by a recovery in the global price of oil.

BP said in a statement that bottom-line net profit rose by nine per cent to $1.769 billion (Dh6.50 billion; 1.521 billion euros) in the three months to September.

In recent years, the group has slashed costs to remain profitable despite tumbling oil prices, which have now steadied at about $50 per barrel.

BP also saw its fortunes and reputation ravaged by the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster in 2010.

Its first-quarter performance was, however, boosted by new projects in its upstream business that comprises exploration and production.

The downstream division, which includes refining, marketing and distribution, also enjoyed a bumper three months.

“We are steadily building a track record of delivering on our plans and growing across our businesses,” said chief executive Bob Dudley.

“This quarter, three new upstream projects and the highest downstream earnings in five years, underpinned by reliable operations and disciplined spending, have generated healthy earnings and cash flow,” he said.

“There is still room for further improvement and we will keep striving to increase sustainable free cash flow and distributions to shareholders,” Dudley added.

The results came almost two weeks after chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg announced his decision to step down after a spell of almost eight years.

Svanberg became chairman in January 2010 — shortly before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April of the same year in the Gulf of Mexico.

The blast killed ten men off the coast of Louisiana and caused 134 million gallons (507 million litres) of oil to spew into Gulf waters, sparking the worst environmental catastrophe in US history.

The total cost of the disaster to the company to date, including fines and compensation to businesses, stands at $63.4 billion.

As chairman, Svanberg also helped guide the company through a precipitous plunge in world oil prices.

Investors welcomed the quarterly figures, with BP’s shares showing a gain of 3.5 per cent at 519 pence on the London Stock Exchange, outpacing the overall market which was up 0.4 per cent.

“While today’s results have been greeted with an overwhelming sense of celebration by the market ... one can’t help thinking that investors are being a little bit too short term when it comes to BP’s fortunes,” said CMC Markets analyst, Michael Hewson.

— AFP

BOX:

BP expects oil prices of $50-$55 next year — CFO

LONDON: BP is working on an assumption oil prices will average $50 to $55 (Dh183.6 to Dh202) a barrel next year as global inventories gradually return to normal levels,

Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary said on Tuesday. An agreement reached between Opec and other major oil producing nations to limit output in order to reduce a glut is having an impact, Gilvary said, but he did not expect oil prices to remain at their current levels above $60 a barrel.

“By the end of next year we will be back at a more normal stock level. It will continue to be bumpy into next year and I wouldn’t be assuming those levels of prices for next year,” Gilvary told Reuters in an interview after BP report a doubling of profits in the third quarter.

“I think $50-$55 is a pretty good working assumption for next year,” he said.

-Reuters