BP maintains shareholder returns despite profits easing back | Business News

While oil and gas costs are down compared to the same period a year ago, BP says it remains committed to strong rewards for investors.

By James Sillars, Business reporter @SkyNewsBiz

BP has revealed a drop in third-quarter profits, largely due to weaker energy prices, but maintained its rewards for shareholders.

The company reported underlying replacement cost profit, its main pre-tax measure, of $3.3bn (£2.7bn) for the three months to September.

The sum had stood at more than $8bn in the same period a year ago and even came in below analysts’ forecasts of $4bn.

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The company said it was largely explained by lower oil and gas costs compared to a year ago.

BP said the third quarter sum reflected higher oil and gas production, strong refining margins, lower refinery
maintenance and “a very strong oil trading result”.

It was the first set of results for BP since its chief executive Bernard Looney quit the business abruptly in September after admitting not being “fully transparent” about personal liaisons with staff.

Looney exit a ‘key moment’ for BP

Interim CEO Murray Auchincloss, who has vowed to maintain BP’s transition towards zero net emissions by 2050, told investors: “This has been a solid quarter supported by strong underlying operational performance demonstrating our continued focus on delivery.

“Momentum continues to build across our businesses, with recent start-ups including Tangguh Expansion, bpx energy’s ‘Bingo’ central processing facility and Archaea Energy’s first modular biogas plant in Indiana.”

He added: “We remain committed to executing our strategy, expect to grow earnings through this decade, and are on track to deliver strong returns for our shareholders.”

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The company kept its dividend unchanged at 7.27 cents per share and extended its $1.5bn share buyback programme over the next three months.

It also said there was no change to its dividend guidance – which is based on an assumed cost for Brent crude oil of $60 a barrel alongside board discretion.

BP has benefited from a lift to oil prices since June, with Brent currently standing just below $90 having pushed closer to $100 earlier this month.

That has been largely explained by production cuts initiated by Saudi Arabia and Russia – with global prices remaining volatile in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war.

However, shares fell by 4% at the market open.

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Analysts suggested the focus was on the profit miss and the fact that the company was yet to appoint a new chief executive, leaving it at risk of drifting.

The profit number also attracted the usual backlash from climate campaigners and consumer charities, accusing BP of profiting while millions of households face financial hardship over the looming winter.

Emi Murphy, warm homes campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “BP has really gone all in for Halloween this year.

“It recently rowed back on its climate pledges, the same year we’ve seen record-breaking temperatures, devastating floods and unprecedented ocean warming – can you think of anything more chilling?

“While its profits might be down on last year’s jaw-dropping earnings off the back of the energy crisis, it’s still posting hefty takings while millions of people are struggling to afford to heat their homes this winter.

“The government has had countless opportunities to bring down our bills and emissions through a nationwide programme of insulation funded by a proper windfall tax on the excess profits of fossil fuel companies and cheap, clean renewables.

“Instead, all we’ve had are weakened green policies and massive tax breaks for oil and gas giants.”

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