BP posts $583m first-quarter loss amid slump in oil prices

Embattled oil giant BP today posted more hefty quarterly losses, just two weeks after suffering an investor rebellion over its chief executive's pay deal.

Fresh from a row over Bob Dudley's pay, BP has posted heavy first-quarter losses. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Fresh from a row over Bob Dudley's pay, BP has posted heavy first-quarter losses. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The group reported a first-quarter loss of $583 million (£402m) against profits of $2.6 billion a year earlier as it continues to suffer from sharply lower oil prices.

But on an underlying basis, the group defied expectations for a loss, posting adjusted profits of $532m, although this was down sharply on the $2.58bn profits a year earlier.

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The figures come after BP was dealt an embarrassing blow at its annual general meeting earlier this month when almost 60 per cent of shareholders rejected its remuneration report for the last year, which included a pay deal of $19.6m for chief executive Bob Dudley.

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Its first-quarter figures showed trading has improved since a dire end to 2015, with replacement cost losses of $485m, compared with a fourth-quarter loss of $2.2bn.

Oil prices have bounced back in recent weeks, now trading at nearly $45 a barrel, while BP is also beginning to see the benefits of swingeing cost-cutting actions.

Dudley said: “Despite the challenging environment, we are driving towards our near-term goal of rebalancing BP’s cash flows.”

He added that oil prices were expected to recover further.

“Market fundamentals continue to suggest that the combination of robust demand and weak supply growth will move global oil markets closer into balance by the end of the year,” he said.

But the trading update shows the impact of the recent global commodity price rout, which saw oil prices average $34 a barrel in the first quarter, compared with $54 a year ago.

Plunging crude prices left BP nursing its largest annual loss for at least 20 years, slumping into the red by $5.2bn in 2015, surpassing even the mammoth losses seen in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.