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BP (NYSE: BP) is resuming share buybacks this quarter after more than tripling its first-quarter earnings from a year ago on the back of rising oil prices and “exceptional gas marketing and trading performance,” the UK-based supermajor said on Tuesday.
BP kicked off today Big Oil’s Q1 earnings season, reporting underlying replacement cost profit—its proxy for net profit—of $2.63 billion, up from $791 million for the first quarter of last year and from just $115 million for the fourth quarter of 2020.
“This result was driven by an exceptional gas marketing and trading performance, significantly higher oil prices and higher refining margins,” BP said in a statement.
Operating cash flow at BP jumped to $6.1 billion for Q1 2021 from $2.27 billion for Q4 and $952 million for the first quarter of 2020.
The market is largely expecting the major oil companies to report strong earnings and cash flows in view of the higher prices this year.
BP’s net debt dropped to $33.3 billion at the end of the first quarter from $38.9 billion at the end of 2020.
Earlier this month, BP said it was on track to reach ahead of schedule its goal to cut net debt to $35 billion and would update the market on planned share buybacks at the Q1 results release.
On Tuesday, BP announced it would spend $500 million on share buybacks in the second quarter.
“This quarter demonstrates what we mean by performing while transforming. With the acceleration of divestment proceeds, together with strong business performance and the recovery in the price environment, we generated strong cash flow and delivered on our net debt target around a year early. We are commencing share buybacks in the second quarter which, alongside our resilient dividend, support the growth in distributions to shareholders,” chief executive officer Bernard Looney said.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com