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BP Outlines Plan To Improve Financial Performance by $3 Billion In Next Few Years

NEW YORK -- BP outlined plans to further boost efficiency and reduce costs with the aim of improving its annual underlying pre-tax profitability by more than $3 billion over the next two to three years.

The company extended its medium-term oil and gas production outlook, projecting that annual output would rise by 1 percent to 2 percent a year on average to 2015, at $60 per barrel from a 2008 base, and expressing increased confidence in further production growth out to 2020.

Previewing BP's annual strategy presentation to the financial community, Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward said the company had established strong momentum in its core businesses and had made great progress in reducing costs and improving absolute and relative financial performance in the past two years.

With more improvement needed, Hayward announced the start of what he called "a new phase to realize the potential of the portfolio built over the past decade.

"The challenge and the opportunity for us is that while our portfolio ranks amongst the best in the industry, our financial performance has yet fully to reflect this. There is now a real opportunity to make this portfolio work harder for us and we intend to do just that."

Hayward said there were more opportunities to improve operating and cost efficiency right across the company, from refineries and marketing operations in the downstream to procurement, drilling and project management in the upstream.

BP's refining and marketing segment committed to further improve underlying profitability by over $2 billion over the next two to three years, and to ensure that refining operations can be profitable even in depressed conditions like those the industry faced in 2009. Hayward said BP's R&M business was well placed to compete because of the quality of its portfolio, featuring on average larger and more advantaged refineries than its competitors,' and because it had already delivered a strong improvement in underlying performance and reduction in costs.

"Whichever way you look at it, there are significant opportunities for improvement and in every case firm plans are in place to close these gaps," said Hayward. "Our direction is clear: the unrelenting pursuit of competitive leadership in respect of cash costs, capital efficiency and margin quality. We believe we have made a good start -- but it's only a start."

On the upstream, Hayward said BP's medium-term growth focused on three areas of deep expertise: deep-water production, global gas including unconventional gas, and managing some of the world's giant oilfields. In each area, BP had made significant advances in 2009.

In addition to setting out BP's downstream and upstream plans, Hayward reaffirmed the company's commitment to investing in growing a focused portfolio of low-carbon businesses, comprising U.S. onshore wind power, biofuels, solar power and carbon capture and sequestration. BP invested $1.3 billion in this portfolio in 2009 and a cumulative total of more than $4 billion since 2006.

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