New projects pay off as BP doubles up on profits

North Sea oil major BP has seen profits more than double to $12.7 billion (£9.7bn) for 2018, following higher oil prices and after it launched a raft of new projects.

The groups annual figures were higher than expected for both the full year and the fourth quarter. Picture: BP

The energy giant’s underlying replacement cost profit – BP’s preferred income measure – surged from $6.2bn in 2017.

The group’s fourth-quarter underlying earnings also jumped higher despite oil prices easing back at the end of last year, to $3.5bn against $2.1bn a year earlier.

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The FTSE 100 stalwart has been riding the wave of a rebound in the cost of crude in recent years, as has rival Royal Dutch Shell, which last week reported a 36 per cent jump in full-year profits. But BP has also been embarking on a number of new projects, which has been boosting production.

Bob Dudley, group chief executive, said: “We now have a powerful track record of safe and reliable performance, efficient execution and capital discipline.

“Our strategy is clearly working and will serve the company and our shareholders well through the energy transition.”

The group’s annual figures were higher than expected for both the full year and the fourth quarter.

On a reported basis, full-year profit rose to $10bn while fourth-quarter results showed it swinging to a $2.7bn profit from a $583 million loss a year earlier.

The firm said payments relating to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico fatal oil spill tragedy stood at $3.2bn in 2018.

BP recently announced plans to pump 100,000 more barrels of oil a day in the region, where it sparked one of the world’s biggest environmental disasters nearly nine years ago.

Full-year results also showed it made divestments of $3.5bn of assets and the group announced plans to complete more than $10bn over the next two years.

BP said it expects recent major projects to ramp up production in 2019. It confirmed fourth-quarter shareholder dividend payments of 10.25 cents a share, up 2.5 per cent on a year earlier.

John Moore, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said: “Despite a volatile oil price at the tail end of last year, BP more than doubled profits in 2018 as it showed cost, capital, and operational discipline across its businesses.

“The company is aware of the changing energy landscape and is active in responding to that by going through significant internal changes, in addition to external moves such as its deal to purchase BHP Billiton’s shale gas assets.

“2019 may well be a year of further oil price volatility and additional industry change; however, BP has shown a great deal of resilience and an ability to adapt to a rapidly changing energy landscape, which leaves it well placed.”