BP profits soar despite $1.6bn Deepwater Horizon payout

BP plc share price

BP plc share price

Brent crude averaged $66.82 in the first quarter, 24 percent higher than a year earlier.

Still, what investors are watching most closely is cash flow, as this is what pays the bills in oil and gas, not net profits that some observers have aptly noted can be adjusted to suit the reporting company's needs.

"Moving through 2018 were determined to keep delivering our operational targets and maintaining capital discipline while growing cash flow and returns".

Our safe and reliable operations and strong financial delivery have continued into 2018.

Operating cash flow excluding payments made following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico stood at $5.4bn, including a $1.8bn negative impact from an increase in working capitals.

Though BP has worked through nearly all of the 390,000 legal claims stemming from the 2010 explosion, the bill for its remaining claims unexpectedly jumped late previous year.

Continued Downstream earnings growth with strong refining availability in the US.

"Overall it was a very healthy set of results", said Martijn Rats, analyst at Morgan Stanley, which has a "neutral" recommendation on BP stock.

BP's cash flow - a closely watched measure for oil groups - rose to 3.6 billion U.S. dollars (£2.6 billion) from 2.1 billion United States dollars (£1.5 billion) a year earlier.

Underlying replacement cost profit for the first quarter of 2017 totaled $1.5 billion.

Earnings after taxation, or bottom-line net profit, jumped to $2.5 billion (2.1 billion euros) in the three months to the end of March from a year earlier, BP said in a results statement.

Since the start of the year, BP has started production at the Atoll Phase One project in Egypt, the first of six expected start-ups this year.

Profit before interest and tax at BP's upstream business, which covers exploration and production of oil and gas, rose to $3.2bn from $1.4bn as production increased and the oil price rose.

"It's not only about the oil price, it is also about the performance of the kit", Gilvary said. The company paid out US$1.6 billion on a pretax basis related to Deepwater Horizon, including a final US$1.2 billion payment to the US Department of Justice.

The further hit from the spill in the first quarter sent the firm's debt levels rising to 40 billion USA dollars (£29 billion) from 38.6 billion U.S. dollars (£28.2 billion) a year ago.

It has so far cost the group more than 65 billion United States 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.

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