BP reports lower earnings, Whiting Refinery timeline

2013-07-30T11:00:00Z 2013-08-09T10:46:09Z BP reports lower earnings, Whiting Refinery timelineJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

Energy giant BP saw profits slip in the second quarter, sliding to $2.7 billion over the last three months from $4.2 billion in the first quarter.

The London-based oil company, which operates the Whiting Refinery, saw profits dip by 25 percent from $3.6 billion it made in the second quarter of last year. The company reported a robust operational performance, despite the outage through the quarter of the crude distillation unit in Whiting, which came back online in July.

Shareholders can expect a quarterly dividend of 9 cents a share. Profits fell because of lower oil prices, higher taxes and lower post-tax income in Russia, which was driven by an oil export duty and the depreciation of the Russian ruble.

The global company's overall tax burden rose to 45 percent, compared to 35 percent over the same period a year earlier.

Earnings missed analysts' expectations.

"The results show strong underlying pre-tax performance from BP's business," said Bob Dudley, group chief executive. "We are seeing growth in production from new high-margin projects and are making good progress in exploration and project deliver. Completion of our operational milestones confirms our confidence in delivering our commitment to materially increase operating cash flow in 2014."

BP has invested $3.8 billion to modernize the Whiting Refinery, so it can process more heavy, sour crude oil from the Canadian tar sands. The investment is the largest in state history, and resulted in work for 14,000 skilled tradesmen over the last few years.

The project is now 96 percent complete, and on track to be completed by year's end. The company recently commissioned its new crude distillation unit, which can process 250,000 barrels per day.

The refinery has been returned its its full processing capacity of 413,000 barrels per day.

Iain Conn, chief executive of refining and marketing, said three more sulfur recovery units will come online in the third and fourth quarters. A 105,000 barrel-per-day gas oil hydrotreater will be up and running by the end of September.

A 102,000 barrel-per-day coker should be up and running before the end of the year.

"We're nearing mechanical completion and on track for all those dates," he said.

Initially, the Whiting Refinery will continue to process light, sweet crude, but will distill a greater and greater share of heavy, sour crude over time. Company officials declined to offer analysts guidance on how much more revenue will come in as a result of having the Whiting Refinery back at full capacity, but said it should be in keeping with historic levels.

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