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BP seeks to refine its performance

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Financial Times: BP seeks to refine its performance

By Ed Crooks
Published: April 28 2008 03:00 | Last updated: April 28 2008 03:00

BP and Royal Dutch Shell , unusually, report first quarter results on the same day on Tuesday, the clash forced by the coincidence of the Dutch holidays of Queen’s Day on April 30 and Ascension day on May 1, writes Ed Crooks . This time round the comparison is likely to flatter BP, which had produced weak results for 2007 – in part because of the problems of its US refineries.

In the first quarter, refining margins were under pressure, so Shell’s downstream strength was less of an advantage, while all oil companies’ production businesses benefited from the soaring commodity price.

BP is reporting its first set of results in its new divisional structure, part of the organisational simplification begun by Tony Hayward after he took over as chief executive last May. BP’s operations seem to be making progress, with new projects starting up and the US refineries gradually being returned to full capacity. But its shares still lag well behind Shell’s on a one-year view.

Mr Hayward told the company’s annual general meeting earlier in the month that the start-up of Thunder Horse, the flagship platform in the Gulf of Mexico, would be a “powerful symbol” of BP’s improving performance.

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