Oil giant BP has posted its highest annual profit in eight years amid mounting pressure on the sector as the cost-of-living crisis deepens.
The group revealed it swung to a mammoth $12.8 billion (€11.23 billion) underlying replacement cost profit – its preferred measure – for 2021 from losses of $5.7 billion the previous year.
It notched up $4.07 billion of profits in the final three months alone, which was better than expected and up from just $115 million a year earlier.
BP also announced more cash returns for shareholders, with another €1.5 billion of share buybacks before its first-quarter 2022 results.
The group recovered from a torrid 2020, when the pandemic sent it slumping $18.1 billion into the red on a statutory basis – its biggest ever annual loss.
✔Purpose, ambition, strategy set
✔Strong progress - transformation on track
Means we can accelerate greening of bp, double down on 5 growth engines, plan to invest 40%+ capex in transition biz by 2025 & now aim to be #NetZero across sales, as well as production & operations $bpAdvertisement
— bp (@bp_plc) February 8, 2022
Oil and gas prices have since rebounded as economies worldwide reopened following the early stages of the pandemic.
But the results also intensify pressure on oil firms as they reap mammoth profit hauls while households and businesses are struggling due to soaring inflation.
Calls are growing in the UK for a windfall tax on energy giants, with Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs arguing that while households are paying through the nose for gas – energy bills are set to rise more than 50% in April – the companies which extract that gas are reporting massive profits.
Alongside its results, BP also announced plans to boost its spending on low-carbon and renewable energy.
Chief executive Bernard Looney said: “2021 shows BP doing what we said we would – performing while transforming.
“We’ve strengthened the balance sheet and grown returns, we’re delivering distributions to shareholders with 4.15 billion US dollars of buybacks announced and the dividend increased, and we’re investing for the future.”