BP announced further share buybacks after underlying earnings more than doubled to $8bn in the third quarter, leaving the energy group on course for one of the most profitable years in its history.
Underlying profits for the three-month period were $8.2bn, up from $3.3bn a year earlier and far exceeding analysts’ average estimates of $6.1bn.
The group’s results cap a historic series of earnings for the world’s biggest oil and gas companies, which have fuelled renewed calls in several countries, including the US and UK, for more aggressive taxation of energy company profits.
In the UK, BP said it expected to pay about $2.5bn in taxes on its North Sea business in 2022 including around $800mn under the government’s energy profits levy, which has already increased the taxes on oil and gas production since May.
BP’s earnings were helped by “exceptional” profits from its gas trading business, it said. Underlying earnings in the gas and low carbon energy division in the quarter rose to $6.2bn from $1.8bn a year earlier.
BP committed itself to buying back a further $2.5bn in shares in the fourth quarter, which would bring total share purchases for the year to just under $10bn. It left its dividend unchanged after raising it by 10 per cent in July.
Net debt declined for the 10th quarter in a row to $22bn, down from $22.8bn at the end of June, after falling from $38.9bn at the end of 2020.
BP shares have risen more than 45 per cent this year.
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