BP chemical profits up despite currency blows

10 February 1998 13:25  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (CNI)--BP's chemicals business improved its Q4 and full-year operating profit despite the strong pound, weak deutschmark and the Asian currency crisis, the UK oil group said Tuesday.

Chemicals Q4 operating profit rose almost 6% to £110m ($181m), while the full-year figure was up about 1.6%, to £484m. However, the Q4 operating profit was down 20% on the Q3 figure.

BP said the increases were due to improved volumes and higher margins. Capacity expansions brought onstream toward the end of 1996 pushed full-year volumes up 12%, to 9.33m tonne. Q4 volumes were up 11%, to 2.45m tonne.

Looking ahead, the company said underlying growth for the chemicals business was expected to remain firm in the key European and US markets. Competitive pressures were likely to increase as significant new capacity comes onstream in the US, Middle East and Asia, BP said.

"A key uncertainty is the impact on demand growth of recent events in some Asian countries." The strength of sterling also remained a competitive issue, the company said.

BP's overall Q4 profit before exceptionals fell 7.7% to £636m. However, it was up 7.7%, to £2.82bn, for the full year 1997. The exploration and production and refining businesses both had weaker Q4 results than in 1996. However, while exploration and production's operating profit was down 3.3% in the full-year to £2.96m, refining and marketing jumped 34% to £910m.

By: Grace Williams
+44 208 652 3214

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