BP profits soar despite $1.6bn Deepwater Horizon payout

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BP's profits leapt by 69 per cent to $2.4 billion in the first quarter as higher oil prices and increased production helped the energy giant beat expectations.

The last time BP generated so much profit was in the third quarter of 2014, when oil prices averaged $104 a barrel. This tops their initial prediction of $2.2 billion according to to a company-provided analytics survey.

Helping boost the bottom line was BP's upstream business which posted an underlying recurring cost profit, before interest and tax, of almost $3.2 billion, up from less than $1.4 billion over the first quarter of 2017.

The spill payment in the first quarter was "US$500 million more than I expected", although that probably means that the burden will be lower later this year, said Redburn analyst Rob West. "Cash flow was good but messy, with less cash tax paid than expected".

BP's cash flow from operating activities rose sharply from a year earlier to $3.6 billion, but declined from the previous quarter as a result of the Deepwater Horizon payments and one-off charges.

He added: "Our safe and reliable operations and strong financial delivery have continued into 2018".

BP made $1.6bn in payments relating to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which included $1.2bn for the final payment relating to the 2012 Department of Justice criminal settlement.

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This organization's stock showed a trading volume of 3.24 million shares, compared to its average daily volume of 4.07M shares. The company has a market cap of $37,970.52, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.01, a P/E/G ratio of 1.21 and a beta of 1.33.

The company's Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary also raised the prospect that BP could consider raising its dividend in the second half of the year as it expects debt levels to come down.

BP's shares rose more than 1% in early London trading, after touching a high of GBP5.48, or about $7.50.

"We have delivered another strong set of results", said Bob Dudley, BP chief executive.

But the group continued to count the cost of its 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, with another 1.6 billion USA dollars (£1.2 billion) forked out in the first quarter.

BP has chosen to return part of the higher earnings from the windfall to shareholders by buying back shares issued in lieu of dividends during the downturn, spending US$120 million buying 18 million shares in the first quarter.

"It's not only about the oil price, it is also about the performance of the kit", Gilvary said.

Net debt at the end of March stood at $40 billion, up from$37.8 billion at the end of 2017. In total, payments are expected to total just over $3 billion in 2018.