BP profit falls 91% as oil price cuts put thousands of jobs at risk

Thousands of jobs will go over the next two years as the company tries to cut costs

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The Independent Online

BP has said its fourth quarter earnings were down 91 per cent on a year earlier after the oil price fell off a cliff in the last 18 months.

Fourth quarter profit adjusted for one-time items and inventory changes totalled $196 million in 2015, compared to $2.24 billion a year earlier.

Underlying profits for the year came in down 51 per cent at $5.9 billion, compared to $12.1 billion for 2014.

Analysts were expecting profits of $814.7 million. The oil price fell from $77 a barrel in the fourth quarter of 2014 to $44 a barrel by the same quarter last year.

Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive, commented: “We are continuing to move rapidly to adapt and rebalance BP for the changing environment. 

BP said it would maintain its dividend payout of 10 cents per share for the quarter, payable in March.

Thousands of jobs will go over the next two years as the company tries to cut costs. BP said it would cut staff by up to 4,000 during 2016 and up to 3,000 by the end of 2017.

Gordon Hughes, professor of energy economics at Edinburgh University, told the BBC that BP needed to find a new strategy to survive while the oil price remains so low. 

"They've tried over the past five years or so two major developments - one was they had a huge investment in the US, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, that went all wrong when the oil spill occurred, and secondly... they have made a large bet on Russia, which is now looking much less good than it was because of the change in the political circumstances," he said.

Dudley told delegates at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos in January that the current oil crisis is as bad as the situation in 1986.

“The first and second quarter will be very difficult... It is a big shock for producing countries. It reminds me of (the oil crisis in) 1986,” Dudley said.