By the OGJ Online Staff
LONDON, May 8 -- Surging North American gas prices and higher production levels spurred BP PLC on to post its seventh successive record-setting quarterly results with the megamajor recording profits of $4.126 billion in the first quarter, a 32% jump from a year ago.
The UK energy giant's exploration and production division turned in pro forma first quarter result of $5.14 billion, up $1.91 billion on the same period in 2000. Its gas and power unit's pro forma result was down slightly, from $142 million to $112 million, a fact explained by the "significant" contraction of NGL margins prompted by the natural gas price's move upward in the quarter.
BP's refining and marketing division turned in a pro forma result for the quarter of $994 million compared with $584 million a year ago.
"The trading environment remains broadly positive, in spite of the slowdown in the world economy," said BP Group Chief Executive John Browne. "Oil and natural gas prices have fallen back from peak levels, but both area expected to remain firm, with oil prices remaining broadly around the target range announced by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
"(BP's) result reflects the positive environment, but also continuing performance improvements which are on track to achieve our announced targets, with high reported production being a particular feature," Browne stressed.
He noted that the company's production levels, which climbed 13% year-on-year this quarter, were expected to be "consistent with existing growth targets."
"Refining margins should remain relatively strong supported by low levels of product stocks, though with regional variations," Browne added.