BP profits lower than expected

BP has reported lower than expected profits of $3.45bn (£2.17m) for the fourth quarter of 2009, risi

The energy company's profits for the whole of 2009 were almost $14bn, down 45% from $25.59bn in 2008 due to refining margins remaining under pressure. BP shares fell by nearly 5% in early trading after news of the results.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward declared 2009 as a "very good" year overall. Oil and gas production grew over 4% and the company continued its 17-year run of increasing reserves.

The increased production was largely due to new projects, such as the first full year of production from the Gulf of Mexico's Thunder Horse field.

Hayward also hinted that BP would have lower cost savings in 2010, after cutting $4bn (£2.5bn) in 2009.

The company has gained access to one of the biggest oil fields in the world, Iraq's Rumaila field, and has also struck oil in the Tiber and the Gulf of Mexico.