British oil giant BP says it made nearly $40 billion in profits last year even as it prepares for the opening of a massive trial later this month about damages that resulted from the company's 2010 oil rig explosion off the southern U.S. coastline.
With higher oil prices through much of last year, BP chief executive Bob Dudley said Tuesday the firm's revenues are increasing and it was able to erase nearly $4 billion in 2010 losses. BP raised the dividend it pays stockholders by 14 percent.
An oil rig operated by BP and its corporate partners exploded in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers were killed and nearly five million barrels of oil spewed into the waters over a three-month period before the well was capped. It was the worst-ever offshore oil spill in the United States and the company now says it expects the damages from the accident to total $43 billion.
BP faces about 600 civil lawsuits brought by individuals and companies damaged as the oil spread in the gulf, and from the U.S. government, which says the company violated the country's environmental regulations. A combined trial is set to start February 27 in New Orleans, Louisiana, a major city near where the spill occurred.
BP's Dudley said the firm remains willing to settle the lawsuits "on fair and reasonable terms," but that if it cannot, it is "preparing vigorously for trial."
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.