BP expected to record a surge in first quarter profits on back of rising oil prices

Alexandra Rogers
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BP Filling Station Signage
BP enjoyed one of the strongest years in its history last year (Source: Getty)

BP is expected to be the latest beneficiary of the surge in oil prices, with City analysts expecting first quarter profits to show a healthy year-on-year increase.

The oil giant's full-year results released earlier this year showed the company was already in a strong position, with profits coming in at $6.2bn (£4.4bn).

Boss Bob Dudley called 2017 "one of the strongest years in BP’s recent history" as it recovered from 2010's Deepwater Horizon disaster by bringing $343m of shares back from investors.

First quarter profits, which are due out on Tuesday, are expected to reflect not only the recent rise in oil prices to $75 a barrel, which also boosted Shell's earnings by 67 per cent to $5.9bn, but the strength of BP's upstream and downstream business.

Read more: Shell earnings surge 67 per cent in first quarter results

BP recently opened seven new oil and gas fields which helped boost its oil production levels by 12 per cent. CMC Markets said the six projects BP has in the pipeline in the North Sea, Egypt and Azerbaijan, should further improve its profitability.

The results announcement coincides with the appointment of a new chairman, Helge Lund, last week. Lund masterminded the $70bn sale of BG Group to Royal Dutch Shell and will replace the incumbent board chair Carl-Henric Svanberg on 1 January 2019. Lund will join BP as a non-exec director on 1 September.

Analysts and investors will, however, be watching to see if there will be any further costs relating to the Deepwater oil spill as well as whether BP can capitalise on the benefits of Donald Trump's tax cuts.

A further sticking point is the company's links with Russia, which has left it exposed after the poisoning of Russian Spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. BP owns just under 20 per cent of Russia’s Rosneft, and Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said Russia could “make life hard for BP if it chooses to”.

CMC Markets said BP's overall debt still remains on the high side at $37.3bn, and needs to come down. ‚Äč

Read more: Here's how Deepwater Horizon has affected BP's share price

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