Profits slide for BP

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After a troubled year, oil giant BP has announced a 17 per cent drop in quarterly profits compared with the first three months of 2006.

The London-based firm reports that the first quarter saw replacement cost profits of $4.36 billion (£2.2 billion), compared to $5.27 billion (£2.63 billion) this time last year.

The past 12 months have been particularly difficult for the company with the investigation into the Texas City refinery explosion by the US chemical safety and hazard investigation board (CSB).

Seen as the worst US industrial accident in more than ten years, the explosion, caused by flammable vapours igniting, killed 15 employees and injured another 180.

Since then, the firm has been hit by much higher safety costs which have dented the company's profits.

In January BP also warned of output difficulties in 2006 caused by the closure of its Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska. The oilfield was forced to close in August due to severe corrosion in the transit pipes. Before the closure, Prudhoe produced 400,000 barrels of oil a day.

However the company believes production in 2007 will meet predictions due to new ventures in Angola and Egypt as well as acquiring an "increased interest" in the Badin field in Pakistan.

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