BP has raised its dividend after reporting its highest quarterly profit in 14 years, as the turmoil in commodity markets sparked off by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has generated soaring returns for the world’s biggest energy companies.
With a threefold increase in profits compared with a year ago, BP completed a bumper set of earnings for the industry that is likely to spark renewed calls in some countries for another round of tax increases on the sector.
According to the measure most closely tracked by analysts, BP’s underlying profits rose to $8.5bn for the second three months of the year, more than three times the $2.8bn it recorded for the same period a year earlier.
That was just under the record $8.8bn the UK-headquartered group reported in the third quarter of 2008 and far exceeded average analyst estimates of $6.8bn. It was up from $6.2bn in the first three months of the year.
The group increased its dividend by 10 per cent to $0.06 a share and committed to buying back $3.5bn of shares in the third quarter of 2022 after completing $2.5bn of share buybacks between April and July.
Its results compared to US giants ExxonMobil and Chevron, which reported record second-quarter profits of $17.9bn and $11.6bn, respectively, while Shell broke its profit record for a second consecutive quarter, reporting $11.5bn in adjusted earnings.
BP in May outlined £18bn of planned investments in the UK this decade in a failed attempt to head off calls for a windfall tax. On Tuesday, it took a similar tack, saying it had submitted an environmental statement for the development of the Murlach oil and gas project in the North Sea and made progress with several other investments in wind power and electric vehicle charging.
BP’s profits were driven by its upstream oil production business, where high oil prices helped raise profits to almost $6bn from $4.7bn in the first three months of the year.
Chief executive Bernard Looney has committed to share buybacks of at least $1bn a quarter as long as oil prices are above $60 a barrel, and has pledged to increase the dividend by 4 per cent a year until 2025.
Net debt declined for the ninth quarter in a row to $22.8bn, down from $27.5bn at the end of March, after falling from $38.9bn at the end of 2020.