BP Profits Surge as Output Grows, but Debt Rises

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Shares in BP (LON:BP) have climbed into positive territory today as the oil major updated investors on its first-quarter performance, posting a rise in profits on the back of stronger crude prices.

Underlying profit was also 23 per cent higher than the previous quarter, marking BP's best results in three years. This tops their initial prediction of $2.2 billion according to to a company-provided analytics survey.

Stripping out one-off costs, underlying profits rose to $2.6 billion, up 71 per cent from $1.5 billion in the same period a year earlier and significantly ahead of market expectations of $2.2 billion.

First-quarter production rose to 3.7 million barrels per day, up 6% from a year earlier.

BP reported lower than expected cash flow for the first quarter of the year, disappointing investors despite the fact that the figure was 22 percent higher than in Q1 2017, at US$5.4 billion, excluding payments related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

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. "Our safe and reliable operations and strong financial delivery have continued into 2018", said BP's chief executive.

Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary said the London-listed company might consider raising the dividend later this year if oil prices remain near current levels and debt declines.

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"The results definitely benefit from a higher oil price that we've seen come through", Gilvary noted.

BP's results follow a mixed picture from the sector with Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L and Exxon Mobil XOM.N falling short of forecasts while results from Chevron CVX.N and France's Total TOTF.PA were stronger than expected.

BP has reported a surge in profits for the first quarter of 2018.

Dividend unchanged at 10 cents per share.

This included 1.2 billion U.S. dollars (£873 million) for the final payment of its 2012 settlement with the Department of Justice. Net debt at the end of March was $40 billion, up from $37.8 billion at the end of 2017.

In late morning deals, BP shares gained 1.0 percent to 543.40 pence on London's FTSE 100 index, which stood 0.3 percent higher at 7,532.06 points.

It has so far cost the group more than 65 billion USA dollars (£48 billion), and although BP has all the major settlements now under its belt, it still has a few smaller legal bills to pay.