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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 April, 2003, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
BP posts record profit
Lord John Browne, BP chief executive
World affairs have helped Lord Browne's business

British oil giant BP has made $3.7bn (2.3bn) in just three months, its largest ever quarterly profit.

BP's coffers were boosted by a sequence of world events that sent the oil price soaring.

These include the run-up to the war in Iraq, the national strike in Venezuela which blocked oil exports, and civil unrest in Nigeria which stopped production.

The profits represent a 136% rise over the same period a year earlier.

It means that BP was earning $41m a day during January, February and March.

"Oil markets have been driven by the impact of war in Iraq, together with the loss of Venezuelan and Nigerian exports and a cold winter in the northern hemisphere," said BP chief executive Lord Browne.

Worrying outlook?

However, oil prices have now decreased significantly after the war in Iraq did not damage world supplies as much as feared.

And that is expected to lead to a slump in BP's profits during the current quarter.

The benchmark crude oil price averaged $31.5 a barrel during the first quarter but was languishing at five-month lows of $23.05 a barrel on Tuesday.

Analysts also expressed concern about other elements of BP's business, including weak demand for chemicals and lower refining margins.

"They look good at the top but when you read more into the statement there are some uncertainties," said one dealer.

BP's shares rose at first but fell back to end the day down 3.25 pence at 399.75p.

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