BP shares fall despite doubling profits in "strongest year in recent history"

 
Oliver Gill
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BP Filling Station Signage
BP resumed a share buyback programme during 2017 (Source: Getty)

BP more than doubled full-year profits in 2017 with signs it has finally overcome a three-year malaise.

The oil giant resumed a share buyback programme as profits swelled to $6.2bn (£4.4bn).

Boss Bob Dudley called 2017 "one of the strongest years in BP’s recent history".

Shares fell as low as 457p in opening trades though and are currently 0.7 per cent down at 478p.

During the final three months of last year, BP said it had bought $343m of shares back from investors, an indication it has put a $65bn clean-up bill for 2010's Deepwater Horizon disaster behind it.

BP production spiked 12 per cent to an average of 2.47m barrels per day after it rolled out seven new oil and gas fields. In 2018 five new projects are set to be launched across Egypt, Azerbaijan and the UK North Sea. These will see production upped by 800,000 barrels per day by 2020, which will be mostly gas.

Read more: BP is set to show a huge rise in profits, but charges will bite

$50 a barrel

With Brent crude prices currently hovering around $67 a barrel, BP has significant headroom to cover costs and its prized dividend. The firm said such cost commitments equated to $50 a barrel during 2017.

Dudley said: “We enter the second year of our five-year plan with real momentum, increasingly confident that we can continue to deliver growth.”

Interactive investor head of markets Richard Hunter said: “Wider market weakness has eclipsed the sturdy performance which BP has delivered."

"The company’s ability to generate cash remains prodigious, underpinning a supportive share buyback programme and a dividend yield of 6.2 per cent, which has remained a stable source of income for investors over recent, leaner years.

"Production has also risen strongly, with the contributions from both upstream and downstream operations adding to BP’s general financial strength. Meanwhile, exploration was as strong as has been seen for over a decade, whilst the company remains mindful and in position to participate in the changing energy landscape."

Justin Cooper, CEO of Link Market Services added: "BP is effectively paying out its entire dividend in cash now that it has begun buying back stock to offset new shares issued in lieu of the divi. With Shell having recently ceased paying a scrip altogether, this is another really positive sign of growing confidence in an industry that has struggled with low oil prices in recent years."

Read more: BP makes two North Sea discoveries as it plans to double production by 2020

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