LONDON (AP) -- Soaring oil and gas prices tied to the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic helped bolster British oil giant BP's third-quarter profits, the company said Tuesday.
BP said its underlying replacement cost profits -- the industry standard -- jumped to $3.3 billion in the three months ending in September, up from just $86 million a year earlier, when oil prices had slumped because of the pandemic.
With its finances in better health, the company said it would reward shareholders with a $1.25 billion share-buyback program, which it said will be completed before it announces its full-year results.
"This has been another good quarter for BP -- our businesses are generating strong underlying earnings and cash flow while maintaining their focus on safe and reliable operations," BP chief executive Bernard Looney said.
Like others in the sector, BP has benefited from rising oil and gas prices in recent months, compared with last year when they fell sharply following the onset of the pandemic.
BP said that if the international Brent crude oil measure remains above $60 a barrel, it should be able to buy back around $1 billion shares each quarter and increase its dividend by 4% annually through 2025.
BP also said it has continued paying down its debt, which had jumped in early 2020 amid the oil price collapse. Its net debt stood at $32 billion, down from $32.7 billion at the end of the second quarter.