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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2006, 13:20 GMT
BP licks wounds after hurricanes
A giant oil rig beached by Hurricane Katrina
Hurricanes brought destruction in the US Gulf Coast last summer
Oil production levels have dropped for the second quarter in a row at BP as hurricane damage continued to hamper operations, the company says.

Daily output in the final three months of 2005 was 4.01 million barrels, slightly down from 4.1 million barrels the previous year.

Havoc caused by hurricanes Katrina and Wilma last year in the Gulf of Mexico cost BP about 160,000 barrels a day.

However, output from newly-repaired North Sea rigs helped offset the drop.

The fourth-quarter figures were broadly in line with analysts' forecasts.

Profits intact

Hurricane Katrina, the costliest US hurricane on record, devastated energy installations in the Gulf of Mexico when it struck in August.

It was followed by a fresh wave of damage from Hurricane Rita in September.

"Approximately $130m of costs are expected to be incurred in the quarter, the majority to repair hurricane damage and the remainder in ongoing work on the Thunder Horse facility," BP said in a trading statement.

In all, the hurricanes have cost the company some $1.3bn in lost profits - $500m in the third quarter and $900m in the quarter just finished.

But despite the financial hit from hurricanes, analysts expect that record oil prices will keep Europe's biggest company by market capitalisation on course for bumper annual profits for 2005 next month.

Shares in BP were trading down 0.3% at 641.5 on Wednesday lunchtime on the London Stock Exchange.

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