BP productivity drive ahead of target

British Petroleum said its productivity drive was boosting profitability faster than expected, following the group's 30 per cent increase in profits and dividends last year. John Browne, chief executive, said last year's target to improve underlying earnings by $1.5bn (pounds 940m) by the end of the decade would be achieved a year earlier than originally planned.

He said: "We now believe we can deliver at least another $300m of improvement this year." Mr Browne also pledged to speed up growth of BP's oil production, which could reach 2.5 million barrels of oil and gas a day within the next decade, a rise of a million barrels a day from current levels.

Announcing the discovery of two major new fields, off Australia and Angola, he said the plan to raise production by 5 per cent a year to 2000 would continue for a full decade. He also said that BP would invest $5.6bn this year, mostly on exploration and production.

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