Fri, 22 Sep 2023

LONDON, England: Due to high margins and trading on the back of soaring energy prices, British Petroleum recorded second quarter profits of $8.45 billion, the highest in 14 years, boosting its dividend and spending on new oil and gas production.

But the strong performance has increased pressure on governments to impose new windfall taxes on the energy sector to assist consumers.

"The company is running well and it continues to strengthen. We have real strategic momentum," BP Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney told Reuters.

Assuming his position in 2020 with a promise to transition the company from fossil fuels to renewables, Looney stressed that in response to the global supply crunch, BP will increase its spending on seeking out new oil and gas reserves by $500 million.

"We will direct more investment towards hydrocarbons to help with energy security in the near term. We will probably direct about a half a billion dollars for hydrocarbons," he said.

The company increased its dividend by 10 percent to 6.006 cents per share, more than its previous guidance of a 4 percent annual increase, as well as increased its share repurchases plan for the current quarter to $3.5 billion, after it bought $4.1 billion in the first half of 2022.

"The fact it produced its highest quarterly profit in 14 years, even though oil prices were higher during that period than they are now, suggests BP is a more efficient machine than it was previously," noted AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould, as quoted by Reuters.

Crude oil and gas prices, as well as refining margins, remain "elevated" in the third quarter, BP said, noting it would stick to its target of using 60 percent of its surplus cash on share buybacks.

The surge in revenue also enabled BP to reduce its debt to $22.8 billion, from $27.5 billion at the end of March.

The company added that its strong performance was due mainly to high refining margins, exceptional oil trading performance and higher fuel prices, though gas trading was weaker.

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