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BP reported a significant drop in the costs related to last year’s devastating Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in the first quarter as the UK oil group sought to rebuild its oil and gas exploration operations.

The company, which last week launched legal claims against three companies involved with the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig which blew up killing 11 men, said non-operating costs related to the Gulf of Mexico disaster were $384m in the three-month period to the end of March compared to more than $1bn in the fourth quarter. The total charge last year was $40.9bn.

Sheila McNulty

A year after the Macondo disaster, the industry has pulled together in the US and built not one, but two spill containment systems. These systems are really state-of-the-art and aimed at containing a massive spill in the deep water.

The first one, the Containment Response System, cost $1bn and is designed to be trucked to anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico, loaded onto a vessel, shipped out to a drill site and dispatched under water to contain oil spilling from a runaway well.

The system, complete with capture vessels, was developed by ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips. It took several months to build and testing has shown it can operate in 8,000 feet of water, capturing 60,000 barrels of fluid per day at pressures of 15,000 pounds per square inch. A more comprehensive system, which can operate in 10,000 feet of water, and capture 100,000 barrels of fluid a day, will be available by the middle of next year.

Shares in Rosneft were up 1.7  per cent on Wednesday, boosted by a buyback plan that is widely seen in Russia as preparation for the state-controlled group’s planned controversial stock- swap with BP.The modest $200m stock buyback announced late on Tuesday is hardly a game-changer in the context of the multi-billion dollar dispute raging around the proposed Rosneft-BP deal and the opposition generated from BP’s existing Russian partner, AAR. But, given the timing, it looks like Rosneft is increasing the pressure to try to secure a deal.

At last the plucky Falklands explorer has found some of the black stuff.

Unfortunately, it did’t find very much – two oil shows over a 1-metre section – and that means the game is almost up for Desire. The company has just £22m (or 6p a share) of cash left, which should just about cover rig demobilisation costs and the rest of its 3S seismic programme.

Naturally, Desire is a putting on a brave face, saying that it will now review all financing options. But no one seriously thinks another equity fund raising is a possibility.

Kiran Stacey

The first BP AGM since the oil spill, and the first one with Bob Dudley at the helm, has come to a close. With the various disputes and controversies surrounding the company at the moment, did Mr Dudley come out of it with his reputation enhanced? And what about the other parties represented? Here is our take:

Kiran Stacey

Protestors outside the BP AGMAs we near the end of BP’s AGM, one thing we can report is that Bob Dudley is still standing. Which is more than can be said of several protesters against the development of Canadian oil sands who were carted out, in some cases lifted off their feet, after shouting across Mr Dudley as he tried to defend such developments.

It has not been an easy ride for Mr Dudley in his first AGM as CEO, nor for the chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. Several representatives of Gulf of Mexico communities were banned and if the company thought barring such people would limit criticism on this front they were wrong. One of the toughest moments for the board came when one woman read out a testimony excoriating the company from the father of Gordon Jones, one of the rig workers who was killed almost a year ago today.

Kiran Stacey

Thursday morning sees Bob Dudley’s first AGM as BP chief executive, and it is not the one he would have planned.

After taking charge last year in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico spill, the new BP CEO initially won plaudits for his plan to overhaul the company’s safety procedures.

Then came his big eye-catching move, the deal that could seal his reputation as CEO. His plan for a $16bn share swap with Rosneft would open up the Russian arctic for exploration and provide an source of revenues that could rival the North Sea.

President Dmitry Medvedev speaks with Vice Premier Igor SechinBy Catherine Belton and Stefan Wagstyl

At first glance, Igor Sechin’s abrupt departure as Rosneft chairman appears to bode badly for BP’s last-ditch bid to salvage its alliance with the Russian state controlled company.

But, it could turn out to be a clever tactical move that might yet save the deal. So complex are the political tensions surrounding the deal that the outcome remains impossible to predict. In other words, BP is still in with a chance.

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