BP increases dividend as profit exceeds analysts’ estimates

Asset Sales

Dudley is focusing on BP’s most profitable oil production as he targets $38 billion in asset sales by the end of next year. In the third quarter, BP agreed to sell its Carson, California, and Texas City refineries in the U.S. for about $5 billion including inventories. In September, BP agreed to sell a group of fields in the Gulf of Mexico for about $5.6 billion.

BP came closer to putting the April 2010 Macondo oil spill behind it in March with a $7.8 billion settlement with victims. The company still faces a trial over fines and liabilities with the U.S. Department of Justice in a trial due to start in February. BP has provisioned about $38.1 billion for spill costs after adding $59 million to its pretax charge in the third quarter.

BP reiterated today that it’s willing to settle with the U.S. “on reasonable terms, though a number of unresolved issues remain and there is significant uncertainty as to whether an agreement will ultimately be reached.”

Refining and marketing “delivered record quarterly underlying earnings,” BP said. “Refining margins are expected to decline in the fourth quarter in line with seasonal trends.”

Refining Profit

Profit in the downstream unit was $3.4 billion, compared with $1.1 billion a year earlier and a loss in the second quarter. It expects to process less crude in the fourth quarter because of the planned upgrades at the Whiting refinery.

Refining margins improved in the third quarter. BP’s refining marker margin, a generic measure of global profitability, rose to $19.50 a barrel in the period from $15.84 in the three months through June. BP estimates its pretax operating profit increases about $650 million a year for every dollar gain in the refining margin, according to its website.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc is Europe’s biggest oil company.

Bloomberg News

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