Smaller on just about every score: but oil major’s future is looking up

LEANER and more focused. That is the vision for BP that Bob Dudley will sketch out when he unveils fourth quarter numbers tomorrow.

Of course shareholders know that what the chief executive really means is smaller – on just about every count.

The dividend will make a comeback, albeit at just 7¢ a share – half the pre-disaster level. And analysts expect production to be down by a tenth at 3.6m barrels a day. The moratorium in the gulf and $20bn of asset sales have taken their toll on BP – once the biggest producer of the private oil majors.

Dudley was right to do some serious pruning; now shareholders need to see a strategy for growth.

Elsewhere, things are looking up. Costs from the oil spill are likely to be lower than thought; the oil price is strong; the deal with Rosneft shows BP is serious about exploration; the beginning of the end is here.

BP’s shares have recovered from lows below 300p a share, closing at 486.8p on Friday. But we think there is some way to go and rate the stock a “buy”.