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BP flags US$20bn loss for 2020, eyes demand recovery as coronavirus vaccine programmes advance

“2020 will forever be remembered for the pain and sadness caused by COVID-19,” said chief executive Bernard Looney

BP PLC - BP flags US$20bn loss for 2020, eyes demand recovery as vaccine programmes advance
image credit: Bjoern Wylezich / Shutterstock

BP PLC’s (LON:BP. fourth-quarter results tallied up to US$20.3bn of losses for 2020, weighed down by significant asset write-offs.

The oil major's reported profit for the three month period amounted to US$1.4bn, versus US$500mln in the same quarter in 2019, though the figure was buoyed by a US$2.3bn gain resulting from the divestment of the company’s petrochemicals business.

Underlying replacement cost (RC) profit – a preferred method of measuring profitability – was marked at US$100mln which was described as being similar to the preceding quarter.

The company noted that its performance was impacted significantly by its downstream business which has suffered particularly due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic limiting volumes and pressure on pricing margins.

For the full-year, the RC loss totalled US$5.7bn and was driven by lower oil and gas prices, significant exploration write-offs and lower refining margins and depressed demand.

BP said it will pay a 5.25 cents per share dividend for the fourth quarter.

The group’s outlook predicts a recovery in oil demand in 2021 albeit as it cautions that the extent of the recovery and the speed at which it arrives will “depend on governments' policies and individuals' self-imposed actions” as vaccine programmes proceed.

It noted that coronavirus vaccine rollout was among the factors that have seen crude prices rally since late October.

“2020 will forever be remembered for the pain and sadness caused by COVID-19,” said Bernard Looney, BP chief executive. “Lives were lost - livelihoods destroyed. Our sector was hit hard as well. Road and air travel are down, as are oil demand, prices and margins.”

Looney added: “It was also a pivotal year for the company. We launched a net zero ambition, set a new strategy to become an integrated energy company and created an offshore wind business in the US.”

Already this transition has seen nearly 10,000 people leave the company, he noted.

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Market Cap: £62.04 billion
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