After a profit of $13.9bn in 2009, last year BP has reported a loss of $4.9bn, the company’s first annual loss since 1992.
According to the company the replacement cost loss reflected a sum of $40.9bn set aside for charges relating to the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Following the Gulf spill, the dividend payouts had been suspended, but Robert Dudley, BP’s chief executive, said the company would restore its dividend payment to shareholders, paying seven cents a share.
The company’s chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said : “We have chosen a prudent level that reflects the company’s strong underlying financial and operating performance but also recognises the need to fully meet our obligations in the Gulf of Mexico and to maintain financial flexibility.”
Saying that there was “considerable uncertainty” over the final cost to the company of the Gulf spill, the company said it hoped its partners in the well, including Transocean and Halliburton, would pay the majority of the compensation payments themselves.
BP’s chief financial officer, Byron Grote, said : “Most of the cost we would view as charges to our partners. We’re billing them for most of the costs that we’re incurring.”
He did add that: “They’ve not responded.”
Partnership in Russia
By the end of 2010 the oil price climbed to $90 a barrel, which helped BP’s profits. By the fourth quarter of 2010 those profits were $4.6bn, a third higher than at the end of 2009.
BP is restructuring its business and has sold interests in Argentina, North America, Venezuela, Vietnam, Colombia and Egypt. In the 2010 results statement, the company announced that it would sell two US oil refineries.
On of them is the Texas City refinery, where in 2005 an explosion killed 15 workers and injured 170.
A $10bn partnership between BP and the Russian state-controlled oil firm Rosneft was announced last month. They will explore the Russian Arctic in order to find oil.
But that deal has upset existing Russian investors in TNK-BP, another Russian joint venture, who are now asking the High Court in London for an injunction to stop the new joint venture.
They are saying that their arrangement with BP means any exploration should be done with it, rather than a rival company.
Saying the two parties “have good relations”, Robert Dudley added : “we are going to meet all our obligations. There’s a business resolution to all of this.”