By Daniel Hunter

BP group chief executive Bob Dudley has said that returning operational momentum and strong cash flow generation in 2011 gave the company increasing confidence in its plans to grow value for shareholders.

“BP is on the right path, working to grow value through the 10-point plan we laid out in October," Dudley said.

"Above all, we have a relentless focus on safety and risk management. And we are playing to our strengths — investing in exploration, deep water, gas value chains, giant fields and a world-class downstream, while actively managing our portfolio to grow value.

“2012 will be a year of increasing investment and milestones as we build on the foundations laid last year. As we move through 2013 and 2014, we expect financial momentum will build as we complete payments into the Gulf of Mexico Trust Fund, restore high-value production and bring new projects on stream.”

With operating cash flow generated by BP in 2011 reaching some $22bn — over 60 per cent higher than in 2010 — Dudley confirmed the company’s expectation that net cash flow in 2014, in a $100 oil price environment, would be around 50 per cent higher than in 2011.

Half of the additional cash is expected to be used for re-investment and half for other purposes including increased shareholder distributions.

BP have thus announced a 14 per cent increase in its quarterly dividend — to 8 cents per share for the fourth quarter of 2011 — the first rise since the company resumed paying a dividend a year ago. BP's underlying replacement cost profit for the quarter rose by 14 per cent on the same period in the previous year.

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