Coronavirus: Energy major BP reports net loss of $450 mln for third quarter

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British energy giant BP on Tuesday reported a net loss of $450 million for the third quarter, down very sharply on the previous quarter’s mammoth losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The loss after tax for the July-September period, helped by a slow recovery in oil demand and steadier prices, compared with a net loss of $16.85 billion in the second quarter.

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“The underlying business performance in the (third) quarter remained resilient and we made substantial progress in strengthening our balance sheet,” BP chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss said in the earnings statement.

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After companies worldwide closed their doors and airlines grounded planes at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak towards the end of the first quarter, oil prices dropped off a cliff, even briefly turning negative.

Prices have however rebounded sharply in recent months to around $40 a barrel.

BP on Tuesday announced a quarterly dividend of 5.25 US cents per share.

This matched the second-quarter payout, which had been halved from the first quarter -- the first cut since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in 2010 that damaged BP’s finances and reputation.

“Funding the dividend remains our first priority and we are confident in moving towards our $35 billion net debt target, supported by value accretive divestments,” Auchincloss said.

The company earlier this year agreed the sale of its petrochemical business to privately-owned rival Ineos for $5.0 billion.

That has helped BP to reduce net debt to about $40 billion, while it posted an underlying profit of $86 million in the third quarter.

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