| LONDON, April 29
LONDON, April 29 A lucrative ride on the
rollercoaster energy markets helped add to the big increases in
profit that BP Plc (BP.L) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L)
posted on Tuesday.
BP beat forecasts with a 48 percent leap in first-quarter
profit to $6.6 billion, while Shell said earnings rose 12
percent to a record $7.8 billion. BP said a few unusual items
flattered its results.
"We had a very good quarter from trading operations," said
BP spokesman David Nicholas. "The contribution was something
like $400 million above what you would generally see."
BP has a reputation as the industry's top trading firm, an
image that dates back to the early 1980s when it led an industry
shift to help create the spot oil market -- the trading of oil
for immediate delivery.
Shell, long regarded as more conservative, said it also
earned more from trading in the quarter, without giving a
"I think we had good trading results," Shell's Chief
Financial Officer Peter Voser said on a conference call. "It is
up, but it is not in a big way up for us."
Crude oil prices at a record high near $120 a barrel,
round-the-clock trading and the appeal of oil to a broader mix
of investors highlight the potential for traders to win or lose
millions in minutes.
While trading has boosted profit in the last few months, it
has also brought BP and Shell under the scrutiny of regulators.
In 2004, Shell's U.S. gas and power trading arm Coral Energy
paid $30 million to settle charges it reported fake natural gas
trades. Coral did not admit or deny wrongdoing.
BP last year agreed to pay up $303 million to settle charges
that it attempted to corner the U.S. propane market in 2004.
(Reporting by Alex Lawler; editing by William Hardy)