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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2006, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Asset sales help boost BP profits
Workers inspecting oil transit lines at the Prudhoe Bay oil field
Problems at its Alaskan oilfield have led to legal action for BP
Oil giant BP has announced a 58% rise in third-quarter profits, buoyed by a number of asset sales.

For the three months to September, the group's income was $6.9bn (3.7bn) - up from $4.41bn last year.

The results benefited from a $1.23bn boost from sources other than operations, such as the sale of assets.

BP has been hit by a number of problems recently, with legal action arising from leaks at its Alaskan oilfield and from an explosion at a Texan refinery.

Problems at its Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska led to a drop in production for the third quarter.

In March 2005, 15 people died in an explosion at BP's Texas City refinery near Houston.

The company is also being investigated in the US over the alleged manipulation of crude oil and petrol prices.

Oil price fall

The results are calculated on the basis of replacement cost, which reflects the current cost of supplies and is widely seen as the best measure of an oil firm's underlying performance.

Net profits after tax fell 3.6% to $6.23bn.

Falling oil prices - which have dropped to $58.80 a barrel from record highs of $78 in July - have weighed on BP, pushing its share price more than 20% lower since April.

The near-term global outlook is for slower but resilient growth
Lord Browne, BP

The group added that the published one-off items of $1.23bn excluded $892m related to its share in the profits from the sale of assets in its joint Russian venture TNK-BP.

Meanwhile, the group's refining global indicator margin - a measure of the profitability of its refineries - fell to $8.40 a barrel in the third quarter from $12.35 a year earlier.

'Resilient growth'

Looking ahead, chief executive Lord Browne said he expected the global economy to remain strong enough to support BP's performance.

"The near-term global outlook is for slower but resilient growth," he said.

Production at the group will continue to be crimped over the coming year as BP announced it did not expect production at its Thunder Horse oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico to restart until mid-2008.

The platform, designed to process 250,000 barrels of oil a day and 200 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, was damaged by a hurricane last year.

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