BP's profits aren't breaking records anymore, but they're still astronomical

BP announced its first quarter earnings on Tuesday.

BP, the British oil giant, announced a first quarter profit of $4.96 billion on Tuesday (May 2). The figure, lower than the same period last year, shows prices stabilizing from the volatility that drove 2022's record-breaking profits across the oil and gas industry, but it also signals continuing growth.

Today’s results beat analysts’ expectations of a $4.3 billion profit for BP, and it is up from $4.8 billion in the fourth quarter. BP hit record profits of $28 billion last year, when oil prices skyrocketed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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BP cited “exceptional” performance in gas marketing and “very strong” results from oil trading which offset lower energy prices and refining margins, as the reasons for its higher-than-expected returns. It further announced a share buyback of $1.75 billion.

How BP spends its profits sparked a shareholder revolt and contentious protests last week

The oil industry earned nearly $200 billion in record profits last year, inviting windfall taxes from governments accusing them of profiteering from war and the global energy crisis, as well as criticism for rolling back their commitments to help slow climate change, in order to prioritize profits and buybacks.

For its part, BP had scaled down its climate ambitions from a goal of 35-40% reduction of emissions from its consumer fossil fuel products, down to 20-30%. And it committed to extracting more oil, including from a new offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. BP is now aiming to produce two million barrels a day, a 25% reduction from 2019 levels, but less than the previous plan of a 40% cut.

BP’s decision to weaken its climate goals sparked a failed, but contentious shareholder revolt from the UK’s largest pensions funds, as well as a raucous annual general meeting peppered with protests and expletives, last Thursday (April 27).

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