BP’s profits double in Q4 of 2016 on the back of slightly higher oil prices and more cost-cutting.
Underlying replacement cost profit – BP’s preferred measure – was $400 million, up from $196 million a year earlier.
The oil giant took another charge of $799 million for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, bringing total charges to $62.6 billion.
BP CEO Bob Dudley said: “2016 was the year we made significant strides for future growth.
“We start this year with considerable momentum – and a sense of disciplined ambition. We have laid the foundations for BP to be back to growth.”
For the 2016 as a whole, underlying replacement cost profit – which strips out fluctuations in the value of oil stocks – fell to $2.58 billion, down from $5.90 billion in 2015.
However, the profit figures were below some analysts’ forecasts, and BP shares fell 2% at the start of trading in London.
In 2015, the company posted its biggest loss in at least 20 years, ravaged by Gulf of Mexico spill costs and tumbling oil prices, which caused the group to axe jobs and cut investments.
However, Bob Dudley said that the costs and liabilities from the fatal Deepwater Horizon oil platform disaster were “now substantially behind us. BP is fully focused on the future”.
BP said it would balance its books at an oil price of around $60 per barrel by the end of the year. Oil companies have been selling assets and cutting costs to adjust to lower prices. Brent crude, the international benchmark, averaged $44 a barrel in 2016, the lowest in 12 years.
Russia has protested over the seizure of the Russian state assets in Belgium, a move triggered by a court ruling over the now-defunct Yukos oil company.
The Belgian ambassador to Moscow was told that the asset seizure was “an openly hostile act” that “crudely violates the recognized norms of international law”.
In 2014, a court told Russia to pay Yukos shareholders $50 billion in compensation, after Yukos’s break-up.
A Russian state company took over Yukos.
In July 2014, an international arbitration court in The Hague said Russian officials had manipulated the legal system to bankrupt Yukos, and jail its boss, the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
France has also seized Russian state accounts in about 40 banks, along with eight or nine buildings, AFP news agency reports.
In a statement on Facebook, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent 10 years in detention in Russia, expressed joy at the asset seizures.
“I am not a beneficiary in this process as the partners redeemed my share back in 2004. But this does not prevent me from sincerely rejoicing, as a Russian citizen, at what is happening now.
“This is a symbolic moment for our country,” Mikhail Khodorkovsky said, calling it “a signal that theft will not escape punishment, no matter how all-powerful the thief was”.
According to a Russian foreign ministry statement, Russia demanded that Belgium reverse its asset seizure. If no such action was taken, Russia warned, it would consider “appropriate reciprocal measures” against the Belgian embassy and unnamed Belgian officials.
Earlier, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev ruled out any compensation for Yukos shareholders. Their interests are now represented by a Gibraltar-registered holding company, GML.
Russia is appealing against the court ruling of last July, Alexei Ulyukayev said.
The asset seizures in Belgium and France also affect Russian media, including TASS news agency and state broadcaster VGTRK, Russian media report.
GML manager Tim Osborne was quoted in French media as saying similar legal action was being taken against Russian state assets in the UK and US.
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