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BP posts its highest profit since 2014

Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

U.K.-based global oil giant BP reported $2.6 billion in first quarter profits on the strength of higher oil prices and higher production, its biggest haul in three years and a rise of 71% from the same period in 2017.

Why it matters: BP is the latest Big Oil giant to report a jump in earnings as crude oil prices have climbed.

The big picture: The total beat analysts' expectations, according to several reports.

  • The company said it produced 3.7 million barrels of oil-equivalent per day in the first three months of the year, which is 6% above the first quarter of 2017.
  • Payments related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill were $1.6 billion, "including $1.2 billion for the final payment relating to the 2012 Department of Justice settlement," BP said.

Yes, but: Per Reuters, the company "saw its debt pile rise to $40 billion due to the settlement of more lawsuits over the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico which has cost it more than $65 billion."

  • However, the company's CFO tells Bloomberg that "We’ve reached the peak now for quarterly payments" from the fatal disaster, adding that debt will fall later this year.

The markets respond: The company's stock climbed slightly in pre-market trading.

Go deeper: This new Wood Mackenzie podcast takes stock of the supermajors' earnings season, including a look at what's ailing Exxon.