BP makes £6.4bn in three months

Profits of £6.4 billion ($10 billion) in three months made by oil giant BP are likely to spark fresh protests from cash-strapped motorists.

The 148% jump over the same July-September period last year is thanks to crude oil prices hitting a new peak above $147 a barrel in mid-July.

Prices have since fallen by more than half to just above $60 a barrel as global recession fears mount, despite moves by oil cartel Opec to cut production.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward said: "Although it has since fallen away sharply, the high oil price of the third quarter obviously helped our absolute result."

The company averaged a selling price of more than $111 a barrel, compared to just $71 in the same period last year.

Stripping out exceptional gains, BP's underlying "clean" profits of £5.7 billion ($8.9 billion) shattered City expectations.

Despite the boost from record oil prices, Mr Hayward maintained that BP had also benefited from an improved operating performance.

Increasing production from major projects more than offset the impact of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico during a period in which BP produced 3.66 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, up 5% on an underlying basis year-on-year.

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