BP and Royal Dutch Shell present third-quarter results this week but profits will be a fraction of last year's bumper haul.
Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell present third-quarter results this week but profits will be a fraction of last year's bumper haul. The duo's results for the July to September period last year were boosted by crude oil prices reaching an all-time high of 147 dollars a barrel, but prices have averaged around half that this time around.
Prices have moved in a narrow range between 65 and 75 dollars a barrel in recent months but this week touched above 80 dollars on a mix of rising stock markets, economic recovery hopes and speculative buying to hedge against a weak dollar.
The City expects BP's underlying profits to come in at 3.15 billion US dollars (£1.9 billion) on Tuesday - little more than a third of the 8.9 billion dollars (£5.4 billion) reported a year ago.
BP, which has has been on a campaign to turn around its poor refining performance during the past 18 months, has been buoyed during the period by major discoveries in Angola and Mexico.
But the firm also received unwelcome attention for its ties with Libya during the row over the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi in the summer.
BP signed an exploration deal in the country in 2007 and made representations to the Government to speed up negotiations over a prisoner transfer agreement with the former rogue state to avoid threatening its interests.
Rival Royal Dutch Shell is expected to report profits of 2.5 billion US dollars (£1.5 billion) - less than a quarter of last year's record haul - on Thursday.
The firm may update on progress made under its Transition 2009 programme, which is likely to result in "substantial" job cuts this year.
New chief executive Peter Voser said in July that the firm needed to become a more efficient company, "with faster decision-making, sharper implementation of strategy, and more focus on costs and value".