BP rebounds into $15.2 billion net annual profit

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.

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