BP profits: BP reports highest profit in 14 years as energy bills soar

BP has revealed second-quarter profits more than trebled as it reaped the benefits of soaring oil and gas prices.

The oil giant reported underlying replacement cost profits – its preferred measure – jumping to 8.5 billion US dollars (£6.9 billion) for the three months to June 30, up from 2.8 billion US dollars (£2.3 billion) a year ago.

The result is better than expected and will likely stoke further controversy over massive profits from oil and energy firms, following record profits from rival Shell and huge earnings from British Gas owner Centrica last week.

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Energy bills forecast to hit £3,615 amid worsening cost-of-living crisis
BP has revealed second-quarter profits more than trebled as it reaped the benefits of soaring oil and gas prices.

The oil and gas giant increased its dividend by 10% to 6.006 cents per share - more than its previous guidance of a 4% annual increase.

But BP’s reported half-year figures were affected by a massive 24.4 billion US dollar (£19.9 billion) hit from its move to ditch the firm’s near-20% stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft in response to the Ukraine war, leaving it with bottom line replacement cost losses of 15.4 billion US dollars (£13 billion).

BP chief executive Bernard Looney said: “Today’s results show that BP continues to perform while transforming.

“Our people have continued to work hard throughout the quarter helping to solve the energy trilemma – secure, affordable and lower carbon energy.

“We do this by providing the oil and gas the world needs today – while at the same time, investing to accelerate the energy transition.”

The profit announcement comes amid rising energy bills for those in the UK, and just days after record profits were reported by rival Shell, as well as the two largest US oil companies - Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

BP also warned that there is not expected to be any let up with energy prices over the summer, forecasting that crude oil and gas prices will remain high over the third quarter due to supply disruption from Russia.

Households across Britain have been warned they could face an annual energy bill of £3,615 this winter in the latest grim analysis by energy consultant Cornwall Insight.

Joshua Warner, market analyst at City Index, said it was a “recipe that should continue to deliver bumper earnings for BP and other oil and gas giants”.

Commenting on the quarterly profits of $8.45bn (£6.9bn) TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Every family should get a fair price for the energy they need. But with energy bills rising much faster than wages, these profits are an insult to families struggling to get by.

“For a fair approach to the cost of living crisis, price hikes and profits should be held back. Ministers must do more to get wages rising across the economy. And we should bring energy retail firms into public ownership so we can reduce bills for basic energy needs.”

Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has voiced opposition to a fresh windfall tax as BP’s profits soar amid the cost-of-living crisis.

He told LBC radio: “I’m not in favour of windfall taxes. The energy industry is enormously cyclical.

“You need to have a profitable oil sector so it can invest in extracting energy.”

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said it is “hard to have sympathy for BP”, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “They are holding a shedload of money that simply is coming from hard-pressed bill-payers in our country.”

He said he thinks it is time to increase the windfall tax, adding: “Clearly there are exceptional windfall profits in the oil and gas sector, and clearly there’s a problem in the energy market, and we should fix one with the other.”

Asked how worried he is about the number of customers who will struggle to pay their bills, Mr Vince said: “It’s an exceptional problem. And this is why I think the Government should step in, like they did with the pandemic.

“We spent £400 billion as a country to get ourselves through the pandemic more or less whole.

“We need to spend a tenth of that to get millions of families through this winter against exceptional energy prices which will have tripled in just 12 months.

“If you’re on a salary of around £20,000 you need a 10% pay rise just to pay for the increase in energy bills, just for that.”

Will Webster, energy policy manager at Offshore Energies UK, said: “The rising cost of energy was a global phenomenon.

“The increase in oil and gas company profits is because there’s been a big increase in global prices which UK industry cannot significantly influence. We are very concerned at the impact this will have on consumers and on the economy.

“However, quarterly and annual results only give you a snapshot showing what has been happening in recent months, so they do not tell you much about longer-term trends. It’s worth remembering that prices have been volatile in recent years with producers also experiencing periods with low returns and losses.

“But those increased profits do mean that the companies producing oil and gas from UK waters are paying a lot more taxes. The UK offshore industry is now paying the highest rate of tax in its history and is predicted to contribute at least £12 billion to the Treasury in this calendar year alone plus a similar amount next year.

“What we can be sure of is that when global prices go down profits will also decline. But the problem that won’t go away is energy security. And security of energy supplies is a real long-term problem for the UK and Europe."