After a massive loss of $6.5 billion in 2015 and layoffs worldwide, including in Whiting, BP posted a profit of $115 million last year.

The London-based energy giant, which operates the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Hammond and East Chicago, reported $17.8 billion in cash flow in 2016. The company cut capital spending by between $1 billion and $3 billion in 2016.

BP has reduced cash costs by $7 billion as compared to 2014, when crude oil prices fell below $100 a barrel and BP embarked on a multi-year effort to slash expenses.

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"2016 was the year we made significant strides in creating a stronger platform for growth," Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said. "We launched six major project start-ups — from Algeria to the Gulf of Mexico — and made final investment decisions on a further five major projects. And we see exciting opportunities ahead."

BP, which employs more than 1,800 workers at its Whiting Refinery, reported an underlying replacement cost profit of $400 million in the fourth quarter, which is up from $196 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. The company coped with an average Brent oil price of $44 per barrel, the lowest in 12 years, and the lowest refining marker margins since 2010.

"We have delivered solid results in tough conditions — and are well prepared for any volatility in oil pricing. We have adapted by cutting our controllable cash costs by $7 billion from 2014 — a full year earlier than planned," Dudley said. "Continued tight discipline on costs remains essential. Everything we have done during the year has made us a more resilient and competitive company."

Part of BP's cost-cutting last year included the layoffs of up to 80 salaried employees at the BP Whiting Refinery, the first significant staff reduction there since the 1990s.

Company executives say oil prices should increase to about $60 a barrel in 2017 and that they've laid the foundation for growth going forward.

"Looking beyond this year, we expect organic free cash flow to grow into the medium term, supported strongly by the ramp-up of production from new upstream projects, strong marketing growth and the positive impact of these portfolio additions," said Brian Gilvary, BP chief financial officer.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.