Hayward to reveal BP's green shoots

By Simon Evans
Sunday 03 February 2008 01:00

BP chief executive Tony Hayward is this week expected to put the problems of a self-confessed "dreadful" 2007 behind him when he unveils the green shoots of recovery at the struggling oil major.

Fourth-quarter profits are expected to show a 10 per cent increase, with the company benefiting from the continued surge in the price of oil. Mr Hayward is also expected to reveal that production grew during the fourth quarter, reversing declines in the previous nine months.

Last September, Mr Hayward, who succeeded Lord Browne in May, unveiled plans to remedy the company's waning fortunes with a raft of new measures.

Richard Griffiths, oil analyst at Evolution Securities, said it was still too early to assess if the turnaround strategy was bearing fruit: "There are three pha-ses to BP's rehabilitation: new projects and recommissioning of its US refineries; operational performance; and reorganisation benefits. This process should take about 15 months. The company's plan could be another inflection point for BP's shares, as it was in 1992-93 and 1997-98."

BP's share price has endured a roller-coaster ride since the plans were unveiled, closing last Friday at 542p – down 106p since the start of the year.

Meanwhile, reports last week suggested that Russia's state-owned gas giant, Gazprom, will secure an agreement to buy a stake in BP's venture, TNK-BP, this summer.

BP's figures come days after rivals Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon revealed record profits of £13.9bn and £20.3bn.

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