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BP profits surge as high gas prices hit household finances

LONDON (AP) – BP PLC reported its biggest full-year profit for eight years yesterday, its coffers boosted by soaring oil and gas prices that have hiked domestic fuel bills for millions of people.

The British energy giant said its underlying replacement cost profit – the industry standard – was USD12.8 billion for 2021, compared with losses of USD5.7 billion the previous year. The figure includes a better-than-expected USD4.07 billion profit in the final quarter.

The company said it would reward shareholders with a USD1.5 billion share-buyback programme before its first-quarter 2022 results and a dividend payout of 5.46 cents a share for the fourth quarter.

BP has rebounded from a 2020 slump caused when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered large chunks of the global economy.

Oil and gas prices have since surged, with prices driven upward by re-opening economies and concern over gas supplies amid tensions over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine.

A BP logo at a petrol station in London. PHOTO: AP

BP’s hefty profit came as British households and businesses struggle with soaring inflation – the consumer price index hit 5.4 per cent in the year to December – and surging energy bills.

Britain’s energy regulator last week announced that household gas and electricity prices would rise by 54 per cent in April.

British opposition parties have called for a windfall tax on energy firms, something the Conservative government has so far ruled out.

“The boss of BP described the energy price crisis as a cash machine for his company – and the people supplying the cash are the British people through rocketing energy bills,” said climate spokesman for the opposition Labour Party Ed Miliband.

“In these circumstances, it is only fair and right for oil and gas producers to contribute to helping the millions of families facing soaring inflation and a cost-of-living crisis,” he said.

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