BP first-quarter profit up 71% as production and oil price rise

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Underlying replacement cost profit for the first quarter of 2017 totaled $1.5 billion.

BP noted the upstream segment had posted its strongest quarter, on both a replacement cost and underlying basis, since the third quarter of 2014.

"We have delivered another strong set of results".

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The oil giant reported profits of $2.6bn (£1.9bn) for the first quarter, up from $1.5bn in the same period previous year, which "primarily reflects higher oil prices and a favourable foreign exchange impact". To pay for cleanup costs and legal fees, BP was forced to sell off billions of dollars in assets, dramatically shrinking the size of the company.

BP produced 3.7 million barrels of oil equivalent daily in the first quarter, a 6-percent increase on the year, which also contributed to the robust financial results.

The company has also demonstrated that despite the general wariness in the industry, the supermajors are investing in new production: in the last quarter, BP made a final investment decision on four new projects-two in the United Kingdom portion of the North Sea, one in India, and one in Oman.

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In late morning deals, BP shares gained 1.0 percent to 543.40 pence on London's FTSE 100 index, which stood 0.3 percent higher at 7,532.06 points. Part of that effort has been a plan to return its oil-and-gas production to 4 million barrels a day, while boosting profits and cash flow. The disaster killed 11 and sent oil spewing into the Gulf, resulting in the worst offshore oil spill in US history. With rising output from our new major projects and excellent reliability, Upstream production was 9% higher than a year earlier.

The company's Chief Financial Officer Brian Gilvary also raised the prospect that BP could consider raising its dividend in the second half of the year as it expects debt levels to come down. That included the final installment from a settlement with the Justice Department to resolve all criminal claims.

During the quarter, BP completed another 200 million USA dollars (£146 million) worth of divestments as it continues to sell off assets, and kept its guidance for between 2 billion United States dollars (£1.5 billion) and 3 billion U.S. dollars (£2.2 billion) over the full year.

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It has so far cost the group more than 65 billion U.S. dollars (£48 billion), and although BP has all the major settlements now under its belt, it still has a few smaller legal bills to pay.