BP’s earnings skyrocket thanks to strong oil and gas operations as share buybacks begin

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3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Detail seen at BP (British Petroleum) electric vehicle charging point in London 2/3

By Ron Bousso and Shadia Nasralla LONDON (Reuters) – BP (NYSE :)’s earnings more than tripled to $ 2.6 billion in the first quarter on stronger oil prices and extraordinary trading income, smoothing the bottom line. way for the energy company to resume its actions. buybacks. The increase in earnings from a year earlier comes as BP says it expects oil demand to rebound in 2021 due to strong growth in the United States and China as COVID-19 vaccination programs accelerate. In a sign of growing confidence in the economic recovery and its operations after a year of cost, personnel and dividend cuts, BP said it will buy back $ 500 million in shares in the second quarter to offset the dilution of a share distribution program. for employees. Net debt fell $ 5.6 billion from the end of December to $ 33.3 billion at the end of March, mainly due to sales worth around $ 4.8 billion and stronger oil prices. That pushed debt below the company’s $ 35 billion target earlier than expected, allowing it to deliver on its promise to buy back shares. The company said it would provide an update on the third-quarter buyback program later this year. As part of Chief Executive Bernard Looney’s plan to shift the major oil company’s focus to low-carbon energy investments, BP aims to sell $ 25 billion in assets by 2025. BP’s shares rose 3% in the first operations, adding more than 15% so far this year thanks to the rise in oil prices. However, it is the weakest performer among the majors, with stocks still about a third lower than their pre-pandemic level, as investors worry about the company’s energy transition strategy. (GRAPH: BP Net Profit – https://graphics.reuters.com/BP-RESULTS/oakvewlnqvr/chart_eikon.jpg) BP’s first quarter underlying replacement cost benefit, the company’s definition of net income, rose to $ 2.6 billion, far beating forecasts of $ 1.64 billion in an analyst survey provided by the company. That compares with a profit of $ 110 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 and a profit of $ 790 million a year earlier. “This result was driven by exceptional gas trading and marketing performance, significantly higher oil prices and higher refining margins.” Reference prices rose to an average of $ 61 per barrel in the first quarter from $ 44 in the previous quarter and $ 50 per barrel in the first quarter of 2020. BP expects global oil inventories, which increased as the coronavirus pandemic hit fuel demand, falling to historic levels by the end of 2021.

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