LONDON - British energy giant BP rebounded into vast profit in 2023, it said Tuesday, after slumping into a loss the prior year on its exit from Russia following Moscow’s Ukraine invasion. Profit after taxation rocketed to $15.2 billion last year from a net loss of $2.5 billion in 2022, when it had taken a gigantic charge of $24 billion on its exit from Russian energy group Rosneft. However, underlying profit excluding exceptional items halved to $13.8 billion on lower refining margins and oil prices, BP added in a results statement. That compared with a record $27.7 billion the prior year when prices of fossil fuels had surged on key energy producer Russia’s assault on neighbouring Ukraine, boosting the global sector. The London-listed titan also cheered investors on Tuesday with the announcement of huge share buybacks and the ramping up of its shareholder dividend. BP will deliver $1.75 billion in buybacks for the fourth quarter of last year -- and it also revealed another $3.5 billion for the first half under plans to buy back at least $14 billion by 2025. The annual results statement comes after it named veteran employee Murray Auchincloss as chief executive, following a period as interim boss after predecessor Bernard Looney’s sacking. Former chief financial officer Auchincloss took the reins in September after Looney resigned and was later officially sacked over his failure to disclose past relationships with colleagues. “Looking back, 2023 was a year of strong operational performance with real momentum in delivery right across the business,” Auchincloss said in the earnings release. Activist investment fund Bluebell Capital had last week urged BP to scale back its “irrational” clean energy ambitions to “invest in clean energy” like biofuels and hydrogen, rather than areas where it has no competitive advantage or experience like renewable energy. However, BP stressed on Tuesday that it remains committed to its energy transition strategy.