BP unveils £8.7bn profits

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The Independent Online

BP added to the bumper profits haul from the oil industry today after reporting a surplus of $16.2 billion (£8.7 billion) for 2004.

BP added to the bumper profits haul from the oil industry today after reporting a surplus of $16.2 billion (£8.7 billion) for 2004.

The figure, which is certain to heighten calls for the Government to impose a windfall tax, comes after Shell posted annual profits of £9.3 billion - equivalent to more than £1 million an hour.

The soaring oil price lifted BP's results performance, which chief executive Lord Browne described as being strong "both operationally and financially".

In contrast to Shell, BP has avoided the crisis that saw its rival downgrade its book of proven oil and gas reserves five times in little more than a year.

And while Shell replaced between 15 per cent and 25 per cent of oil used in 2004, BP said it had more than replaced annual output for the 12th year running - by 106 per cent.

The company also announced a "significant one-time step-change" in the level of dividend payments it planned to make to shareholders.

Citing the "strong prevailing circumstances of the group", Lord Browne said the company would lift its fourth quarter dividend in dollar terms by 26 per cent - the biggest single increase in recent history.

Despite the record profits figure of 16.2 billion US dollars, the performance was below the expectations of some City analysts.

The figure was 26 per cent higher than last year and included profits of 3.65 billion US dollars (£1.97 billion) for the final three months of 2004 - down on the 3.94 billion US dollars (£2.12 billion) in the third quarter.

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