BP posts £402m first-quarter loss amid slump in oil prices

File photo dated 15/05/13 of the headquarters of BP, in St James's Square, London. Picture: Dominic

File photo dated 15/05/13 of the headquarters of BP, in St James's Square, London. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Embattled oil giant BP posted more hefty losses in the first three months of the year, just two weeks after suffering an investor rebellion over its chief executive's pay deal.

The group reported a first quarter loss of 583 million US dollars (£402 million) against profits of 2.6 billion US dollars (£1.8 million) a year earlier as it continues to suffer from sharply lower oil prices.

But on an underlying basis, the group defied expectations for a loss, posting adjusted profits of 532 million US dollars (£367 million), although this was down sharply on the 2.58 billion US dollars (£1.8) profits a year earlier.

The figures come after BP was dealt an embarrassing blow at its annual general meeting earlier this month when almost 60% of shareholders rejected its remuneration report for the last year, which included a pay deal of 19.6 million dollars (£13.8 million) for chief executive Bob Dudley.

Its first-quarter figures showed trading has improved since a dire end to 2015, with replacement cost losses of 485 million US dollars (£335 million), compared with a fourth-quarter loss of 2.2 billion US dollars (£1.5 billion).

Oil prices have bounced back in recent weeks, now trading at nearly 45 US dollars a barrel, while BP is also beginning to see the benefits of swingeing cost-cutting actions.

Mr Dudley said: 'Despite the challenging environment, we are driving towards our near-term goal of rebalancing BP's cash flows.'

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He added that oil prices were expected to recover further.

'Market fundamentals continue to suggest that the combination of robust demand and weak supply growth will move global oil markets closer into balance by the end of the year,' he said.

But the trading update shows the impact of the recent global commodity price rout, which saw oil prices average 34 US dollars a barrel in the first quarter compared with 54 US dollars a year ago.

Plunging crude prices left BP nursing its largest annual loss for at least 20 years, slumping into the red by 5.2 billion US dollars (£3.6 billion) in 2015, surpassing even the mammoth losses seen in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.