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BP returned to profit in 2021 as oil and gas prices surged, rebounding from a huge loss the prior year when the pandemic struck, the British energy giant revealed Tuesday as it also accelerated plans to cut carbon emissions.
BP posted a net profit of $7.6 billion (6.7 billion euros) last year, compared with a loss after tax of $20.3 billion in 2020, the company said in a statement.
"2021 shows BP doing what we said we would -- performing while transforming," said BP chief executive Bernard Looney.
The company announced plans to accelerate its target to reduce operational carbon emissions.
"We are accelerating the greening of BP," Looney said.
"This allows us to raise our low carbon ambitions, and we are now aiming to be net zero across operations, production and sales by 2050 or sooner -- unique among our peers."
Greenpeace acknowledged that BP was indeed leading the way among rivals on tackling carbon reduction but stressed that its efforts had to be matched by other oil majors to deliver firm results.
"BP may be the most ambitious of the oil giants to pivot away from wrecking the climate with their core business but it's no longer possible to solve this problem one oil company at a time," Charlie Kronick, Greenpeace senior climate adviser, told AFP.
"It will simply be too little, too late,"
Kronick called on governments to "end the growth in fossil fuels and to massively raise ambition to reduce emissions and to build a green energy economy".
Friends of the Earth echoed those sentiments.
"It's time to rapidly scale up investment in renewables and energy efficiency while winding down fossil fuel production to create affordable renewable energy for everyone," the organisation said in a statement.
BP meanwhile added on Tuesday that it aims to reduce operational emissions by 50 percent by 2030.
That compared with its previous target of 30-35 percent by the end of the decade on its path to net zero by mid-century.
"The past two years have reinforced our belief in the opportunities that the energy transition presents -- to create value for our shareholders and to get to net zero," added Looney, who became BP chief executive when the coronavirus began taking hold worldwide in early 2020.
BP is aiming also to accelerate net zero life-cycle emissions from the energy products it sells, notably oil and gas, by 2050 or sooner.
The new target is "a significant advance from the previous aim of a 50-percent reduction".
- Cash surplus -
BP on Tuesday also said it would return $4.15 billion to shareholders via a share buyback thanks to a surplus cash flow.
Group revenue ballooned 49 percent last year to $157.7 billion, with oil and gas prices rocketing thanks to rebounding demand for energy as economies reopened from lockdowns.
Like its rivals, BP slumped deep into the red in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic slashed energy demand and prices.
That resulted in top oil companies shedding thousands of jobs.
Prices have since rebounded sharply, with the benchmark Brent North Sea oil contract trading at $94 per barrel this week -- the highest level in more than seven years.
Surging crude prices are, however, weighing on business costs and individuals' spending power as inflation worries mount worldwide.
European gas prices have also blazed a record-breaking trail over the past year on strong winter demand and the tensions between key supplier Russia and consumer nations.
Electricity prices have additionally seen massive gains.
BP rival Shell last week announced annual net profit totalling $20.1 billion, also after a huge loss in 2020.