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Tuesday, 7 August, 2001, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
BP's profits fall from record high
BP's two-year record run of quarterly profits has ended
BP has reported second quarter profits of $3.8bn (2.66bn), up 8.6% from $3.6bn a year ago, but breaking a two year streak of quarterly rises.

The last major oil company to report second-quarter results, saw them knocked from the first quarter record of $4.13bn by the recent fall in oil and gas prices.

Oil Profits 2Q
Exxon $4.38bn
BP $3.8bn
Shell $3.5bn
Nevertheless, BP still posts record half-year figures of $7.92bn (5.58bn), which works out at a rate of 1.3m an hour.

The earnings were in line with forecasts, but the company unexpectedly raised its quarterly dividend payout to 5.5 cents from 5.25.

Rival Shell disappointed analysts with growth of just 1% in its second quarter figures last Thursday, while ExxonMobile reported 6% growth in the same period.

Pumps lose money

The oil giant said the results reflected a "generally favourable trading environment" both for the second quarter and the first half.

The results did not give a breakdown of the group's UK retail arm, but a spokesperson has confirmed the business made a "small loss" during the period.

Petrol campaigners have recently targetted BP for increasing petrol prices while still making record profits.

Positive outlook

"Performance improvements in the first half year continue on track to deliver our targets," said chief executive Lord John Browne.

Strong returns from refining and high gas prices offset weakness in the chemicals operation, the company said in a statement, adding it was on target to hit its growth estimates for the year.

BP said it was "responding to the current trading environment" in its chemical business by reducing investment and implementing more cost reductions.

But spending over the past 18 months in exploration and development has raised its production by 4% in the quarter, pushing the total up to 9% for the first half of the year.

"Oil consumption is expected to recover seasonally in the coming months. OPEC's actions in regard to supply may support prices within its current target price range (of 22 to 28 dollars a barrel)", said Lord Browne.

See also:

02 Jul 01 | Business
BP's petrol profits rise
13 Feb 01 | Business
BP defends record 9.75bn profit
07 May 01 | Business
US petrol prices hit all-time high
13 Feb 01 | Business
Oil firms: Excessive profits?
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