OIL giant BP’s profit was more than half a billion pounds higher than expected in the first three months of the year as the business continued to benefit from skyrocketing energy prices.

Bosses revealed on Tuesday that the company had made just under £4bn underlying replacement cost profit between January and March.

It is a slight reduction from last year although apart from that is the best result that BP has reported in at least a decade.

Responding to the news, senior climate adviser at Greenpeace UK Charlie Kronick said: “Millions in Britain are still struggling with sky-high energy bills. BP’s profits are still surging – and we’re the ones picking up the tab.

“It’s time for the Government to step in and force BP – and the rest of the oil industry – to start paying for the damage they’re causing to the climate and use the money to address the devastating climate impacts already being experienced around the world.”

The business has around £560 million more than analysts who follow the oil major had thought it would make.

Chief executive Bernard Looney said: “This has been a quarter of strong performance and strategic delivery as we continue to focus on safe and reliable operations.”

SNP respond

Following the news, the SNP has challenged the UK Government to match the Scottish Government’s £500 million just transition fund and to bring energy bills down for people in Scotland.

The party’s economy spokesperson Stewart Hosie said: “With energy companies reporting bumper profits, the Tories must hand north sea oil and gas profits back to Scotland, instead of hoarding them at Westminster.

“Scotland is an energy rich country – and it’s utterly shameful that, under the Tories, millions of Scottish families are being forced to pay through the nose for energy bills, while the Westminster Treasury reaps the benefits of Scotland’s energy wealth.

“The money raised through the windfall tax on oil and gas companies must be reinvested in Scotland.

“The Tories and Labour Party are both guilty of taking billions from Scotland’s energy wealth and failing to reinvest in our communities.

“The time for excuses is over. Westminster must reinvest Scotland’s energy wealth back into Scotland’s communities.”

'Unearned' profits

Shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband, called the profits “unearned” and “unexpected windfalls of war”.

BP has already been hit by extra windfall taxes on the profits it makes from pumping oil and gas from UK waters.

However critics have said the tax allows energy companies to get away with not paying much of it if they invest in drilling for more oil and gas.

“These enormous profits are the unearned, unexpected windfalls of war. And every excess pound that the energy giants rake in is at the expense of British families,” Miliband said.

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Yet, after all this time, the Tory windfall tax is still full of get-out clauses with billions being bunged at oil and gas companies in special subsidies not available in any other part of the energy sector.”

BP said it expects oil prices to remain high after a recent decision by Opec+, a cartel of oil-producing countries, to restrict production in order to keep prices up.

Demand from China will also serve to put upwards pressure on both the cost of oil and the cost of liquid natural gas.