Profits at British energy giant BP plunged in the first quarter compared with one year earlier when the group sold its stake in a Russian joint venture, according to the company.

Net profit stood at $3.53bn (€2.5bn) in the first three months of 2014 compared with profit after tax of $16.863 billion in the first quarter one year earlier, BP said in an earnings statement.

BP - still seeking to reposition itself after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster in 2010 - has since sold its 50% stake in TNK-BP to Rosneft that gave it a near 20% stake in the Russian energy company.

"First quarter 2013 included a $12.5bn gain relating to the disposal of our interest in TNK-BP," the British company said in a statement, explaining the main reason for the heavy fall to net profit.

BP's performance was hit also by a $521m write-off relating to its decision not to develop the Utica shale energy acreage in the United States.

Stripping out the one-off gains and losses, as well as changes to the value of its oil and gas inventories, BP said that profit after tax dropped to $3.22bn in the first quarter - which was also lower compared with market expectations.

Analysts' consensus had been for so-called underlying replacement cost profit of $5.42bn, according to a survey from Dow Jones Newswires.