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BP almost tripled its profits in the first three months of this year as the UK oil group benefited from higher oil prices to deliver better than-expected quarterly results.

Profits on an underlying replacement cost basis – the main measure watched by analysts – were $1.5bn.

This was up from $532m in the first quarter of 2016 and higher than the $1.26bn consensus forecast by analysts.

The results added to evidence of recovery in the sector after an 80 per cent increase in oil prices from the 12-year lows recorded early last year. ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two biggest US oil groups, both last week beat market expectations with sharply higher first quarter earnings.

BP’s operating cash flow increased strongly to $4.4bn, excluding expenses related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, from $3bn in the same period last year. This helped BP keep its dividend steady at 10 cents per share despite a series of recent acquisitions to replenish its oil and gas reserves.

Production rose 5 per cent in the quarter to 3.5m barrels per day as BP began to benefit from the first of several new projects due to come on stream in coming months.

Bob Dudley, BP chief executive said:

Our year has started well. BP is focused on the disciplined delivery of our plans. First quarter earnings and cash flow were robust. We have shown continued operational momentum – it was another strong quarter for the Downstream and the first of our seven new Upstream major projects has started up, with a further three near completion. We expect these to drive a material improvement in operating cash flow from the second half.

(Image: PA Wire)

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