BP's fourth quarter profits hit by refining weaknessTuesday 04 February 2014 08.04
Oil giant BP today reported weaker quarterly profits after its refining business swung to a loss, and said it would increase the accounting provision for the 2010 US oil spill by $200m.
The UK company today reported underlying replacement cost profit of $2.8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2013.
This was 37% lower than the same time a year ago, but ahead of a consensus forecast of $2.7 billion.
BP's lower profits are in step with what has been a tough earnings season across the "big oil" sector, as companies struggle to grow profits amid rising costs, the expense of finding fresh reserves and weak refining margins.
The world's largest publicly traded oil company by market value, Exxon Mobil, reported lower than expected quarterly profits last week, while Chevron and BP's European rival Shell both issued profit warnings in January.
BP, unlike its rivals, however, is also dealing with the fallout from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill which killed 11 men and despoiled the surrounding coastline in the US' worst offshore environmental disaster.
BP said the provision to cover the spill's clean-up, fines, compensation and legal costs had risen to $42.7 billion from $42.5 billion last year.
The company said the fall in its earnings, which were hurt by difficult conditions in its shrinking refining business and costs associated with the start-up of its Whiting refinery in the US, were partially offset by higher earnings from Rosneft.
Rosneft, the state-controlled Russian company into which BP folded its Russian business last year in exchange for a 19.75% stake, delivered $1.1 billion of the profits.