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First quarter 2021 results

27 April 2021
Performing while transforming
Financial summary
$ million
First quarter 2021
Fourth quarter 2020 First quarter 2020
Profit (loss) for the period attributable to bp shareholders  4,667 1,358 (4,365)
Inventory holding (gains) losses*, net of tax (1,342) (533) 3,737
Replacement cost (RC) profit (loss)*
3,325 825 (628)
Net (favourable) adverse impact of adjusting items*(a), net of tax  (695) (710) 1,419
Underlying RC profit*
2,630 115 791
Operating cash flow*
6,109 2,269 952
Capital expenditure*
(3,798) (3,491) (3,861)
Divestment and other proceeds(b)
4,839 4,173 681
Net issue (repurchase) of shares
Net debt*(c)
33,313 38,941 51,404
Announced dividend per ordinary share (cents per share)  5.25 5.25 10.50
Underlying RC profit per ordinary share* (cents)
12.95 0.57 3.92
Underlying RC profit per ADS (dollars)  0.78 0.03 0.24
(a) Prior to 2021 adjusting items were reported under two different headings – non-operating items and fair value accounting effects*. See page 28 for more information.

(b) Divestment proceeds are disposal proceeds as per the condensed group cash flow statement. Other proceeds were $675 million from the sale of a 49% interest in a controlled affiliate holding certain refined product and crude logistics assets onshore US in the first quarter 2021 and $170 million in relation to the sale of an interest in bp's New Zealand retail property portfolio in the fourth quarter 2020. There are no other proceeds in the first quarter 2020.

(c) See Note 8 for more information.

RC profit (loss), underlying RC profit (loss) and net debt are non-GAAP measures. Inventory holding (gains) losses and adjusting items are non-GAAP adjustments.

* For items marked with an asterisk throughout this document, definitions are provided in the Glossary on page 33.

Strong results and cash flow delivery

  • Reported profit for the quarter was $4.7 billion, compared with $1.4 billion profit for the fourth quarter 2020.
  • Underlying replacement cost profit* was $2.6 billion, compared with $0.1 billion for the previous quarter. This result was driven by an exceptional gas marketing and trading performance, significantly higher oil prices and higher refining margins.
  • Operating cash flow* of $6.1 billion was underpinned by strong business performance, with a working capital* build (after adjusting for inventory holding gains) of $1.2 billion including $0.5 billion of severance payments. This build was largely offset by other timing differences.
  • Divestment and other proceeds were $4.8 billion in the quarter, including $2.4 billion from the divestment of a 20% stake in Oman Block 61 and $1.0 billion final instalment for the sale of the petrochemicals business.

Net debt target achieved, $500 million share buybacks in the second quarter

  • Net debt* reduced by $5.6 billion to reach $33.3 billion at the end of the quarter. Having reached $35 billion net debt, bp is now retiring this target and remains committed to maintaining a strong investment grade credit rating.
  • bp is introducing an intent going forward to offset dilution from vesting of awards under employee share schemes through buybacks. Surplus cash flow* is now defined after the cost of buying back these shares.
  • In addition, bp remains committed to returning at least 60% of surplus cash flow to shareholders through share buybacks, subject to maintaining a strong investment grade credit rating. In considering the quantum of buybacks, the board will take account of the cumulative level of, and outlook for, surplus cash flow with the intention to provide guidance on a quarter-forward basis while macro uncertainties remain.
  • For 2021:
    • In the second quarter, bp intends to offset the expected full-year dilution from the vesting of awards under employee share schemes through buybacks, at a cost of around $500 million.
    • Subject to maintaining a strong investment grade credit rating, the board is committed to using 60% of surplus cash flow for buybacks, planning to allocate the remaining 40% to further strengthen the balance sheet and support our strong investment grade credit rating.
    • During the first quarter, bp generated surplus cash flow of $1.7 billion after having reached its net debt target of $35 billion. During the second quarter, cash flow is expected to be impacted by the $1.2 billion pre-tax annual Gulf of Mexico oil spill payment, further severance payments and a smaller improvement in realized refining margins relative to the quarter to date rise in our RMM*. As a result of these factors we expect a cash flow deficit in the second quarter.
    • In the second half of the year bp expects to generate surplus cash flow above an oil price of around $45 per barrel with an RMM of around $13 per barrel and Henry Hub of $3 per mmBtu.
    • bp will provide an update on our third quarter buyback plans at the time of our second quarter results, taking into account the surplus cash flow in the first half of the year as well as the outlook for surplus cash flow.

Disciplined strategic progress

  • Oil production & operations: in April in the Gulf of Mexico, the Argos platform for bp's Mad Dog 2 development arrived, on track for start-up in 2022, and bp announced the high-quality Puma West oil discovery.
  • Customers & products: bp agreed to acquire a stake alongside Daimler and BMW in Digital Charging Solutions, a leading developer of digital charging software, and bp pulse announced the roll out of new EV-only ultra-fast charging hubs across the UK. bp also added further strategic convenience sites* to its network during the quarter.
  • Gas & low carbon energy: bp and EnBW were selected as preferred bidder for UK offshore wind leases and bp completed formation of its US offshore wind partnership with Equinor. bp announced plans for the UK's largest blue hydrogen production facility in Teesside. Start of production from two new gas projects – Raven in Egypt and Satellite Cluster in India – was announced in April.
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. And at the same time, we’ve delivered disciplined strategic progress right across bp – including building a high-quality offshore wind business, making great strides in our electrification agenda and setting ourselves up for further growth in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bernard Looneychief executive officer

Further information




bp press office, London: +44 (0)20 7496 4076, bppress@bp.com

Cautionary statement


In order to utilize the ‘safe harbor’ provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the ‘PSLRA’) and the general doctrine of cautionary statements, bp is providing the following cautionary statement: The discussion in this results announcement contains certain forecasts, projections and forward-looking statements - that is, statements related to future, not past events and circumstances - with respect to the financial condition, results of operations and businesses of bp and certain of the plans and objectives of bp with respect to these items. These statements may generally, but not always, be identified by the use of words such as ‘will’, ‘expects’, ‘is expected to’, ‘aims’, ‘should’, ‘may’, ‘objective’, ‘is likely to’, ‘intends’, ‘believes’, ‘anticipates’, ‘plans’, ‘we see’ or similar expressions. In particular, the following, among other statements, are all forward looking in nature: expectations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including its risks, impacts, consequences and challenges and bp’s response, the impact on bp’s financial performance (including cash flows and net debt), operations and credit losses, and the impact on the trading environment, oil and gas prices, and global GDP; expectations regarding the shape of the COVID-19 recovery and the pace of transition to a lower-carbon economy and energy system; plans, expectations and assumptions regarding oil and gas demand, supply or prices, the timing of production of reserves; plans and expectations regarding the divestment programme, including the amount and timing of proceeds in 2021, and plans and expectations in respect of reaching $25 billion of proceeds by 2025 and expectations that disposal proceeds in 2021 will be in the $5-6 billion range; expectations with respect to completion of transactions and the timing and amount of proceeds of agreed disposals; plans and expectations with respect to the total amount of organic capital expenditure; plans and expectations with respect to the total capital expenditure for 2021; plans and expectations regarding net debt; plans and expectations regarding new joint ventures and other agreements, including partnerships with Equinor, EnBW, Amazon, RIC Energy, Qantas, Infosys, Australia and Azerbaijan, as well as plans and expectations related to bp’s Mad Dog 2 development in the Gulf of Mexico and bp’s hydrogen production facility in Teesside (UK); plans and expectations with respect to the development of EV charging networks in the UK and Europe; expectations regarding quarterly dividends and share buybacks including plans and expectations to return at least 60% of surplus cash flow to shareholders and to offset dilution from employee share schemes going forward; expectations regarding demand for bp’s products; expectations regarding refining margins, refinery utilization rates and product demand; expectations regarding bp’s future financial performance and cash flows; expectations regarding the underlying effective tax rate for 2021; plans and expectations regarding bp’s renewable energy and alternative energy businesses; expectations regarding reported and underlying production and related major project ramp-up, capital investments, divestment and maintenance activity; expectations regarding price assumptions used in accounting estimates; expectations regarding the timing and amount of future payments relating to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; and expectations regarding operational and financial results or acquisitions or divestments by Rosneft, and expectations with respect to Rosneft dividends. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to events and depend on circumstances that will or may occur in the future and are outside the control of bp. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed in such statements, depending on a variety of factors, including: the extent and duration of the impact of current market conditions including the volatility of oil prices, the impact of COVID-19, overall global economic and business conditions impacting our business and demand for our products as well as the specific factors identified in the discussions accompanying such forward-looking statements; changes in consumer preferences and societal expectations; the pace of development and adoption of alternative energy solutions; the receipt of relevant third party and/or regulatory approvals; the timing and level of maintenance and/or turnaround activity; the timing and volume of refinery additions and outages; the timing of bringing new fields onstream; the timing, quantum and nature of certain acquisitions and divestments; future levels of industry product supply, demand and pricing, including supply growth in North America; OPEC quota restrictions; PSA and TSC effects; operational and safety problems; potential lapses in product quality; economic and financial market conditions generally or in various countries and regions; political stability and economic growth in relevant areas of the world; changes in laws and governmental regulations; regulatory or legal actions including the types of enforcement action pursued and the nature of remedies sought or imposed; the actions of prosecutors, regulatory authorities and courts; delays in the processes for resolving claims; amounts ultimately payable and timing of payments relating to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; exchange rate fluctuations; development and use of new technology; recruitment and retention of a skilled workforce; the success or otherwise of partnering; the actions of competitors, trading partners, contractors, subcontractors, creditors, rating agencies and others; our access to future credit resources; business disruption and crisis management; the impact on our reputation of ethical misconduct and non-compliance with regulatory obligations; trading losses; major uninsured losses; decisions by Rosneft’s management and board of directors; the actions of contractors; natural disasters and adverse weather conditions; changes in public expectations and other changes to business conditions; wars and acts of terrorism; cyber-attacks or sabotage; and other factors discussed elsewhere in this report, as well those factors discussed under “Risk factors” in bp Annual Report and Form 20-F 2020 as filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.