A measly $2.88 billion for BP

Sign outside a BP gas station in Chicago

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: The oil company profit reports have been rolling the past few days. They have two things in common: One, big oil made ungodly amounts of money last year. But two, the oil giants all got stung a bit in the fourth quarter. Lower oil prices are beginning to, shall we say, sedate the cash cow. BP turned in its numbers this morning. And the trend is the same, but BP has other issues. Our reporter Stephen Beard joins us from London. Stephen, I see that BP has been spending a lot of money lately. On what?

STEPHEN BEARD: It's been spending its money principally on upgrading safety on its many facilities throughout the United States, and a great deal of this of course is in reaction, in the aftermath of the Texas City oil refinery fire in 2005, the worst industrial disaster for the U.S. in a decade.

JAGOW: And besides that fire, they have the Alaska pipeline issues, I mean the last year or so has been really rough on BP.

BEARD: It has been a disaster. It has been an annus horribilis as the Queen of England might say. Not just that of course, there have been allegations of price-rigging in the propane market. The company is now hoping that it's going to turn the corner in 2007 in its North American operations. Lord Browne, who up until 2005 had been hailed as an absolute maestro, a genius, is now leaving the company 18 months earlier than planned under something of a cloud. The company and its investors, however, are hoping that as a result BP will in 2007 begin the fight back.

JAGOW: OK Stephen, thank you.

BEARD: OK Scott.

JAGOW: Our European correspondent Stephen Beard.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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