Belfast Telegraph

BP spending £1.1bn on fuel business deal in Australia

BP has splashed out 1.3 billion US dollars (£1.1 billion) on the Australian fuel business of Woolworths in an effort to drive growth amid enduring pressure from low oil prices.

The move will see the oil major tighten its grip on the Australian market by adding 527 petrol stations and 16 sites under construction to the 350 outlets it already owns in the country.

It comes as BP looks to build on its successful UK tie-up with Marks & Spencer by bolstering its 248 Simply Food forecourt stores by a further 50 sites next year.

Tufan Erginbilgic, chief executive of BP Downstream, said the Woolworths deal would create "significant value" for the company.

"We are excited to be establishing this strategic partnership with Woolworths, one of Australia's largest supermarket retailers.

"Globally we have developed a winning retail formula where we partner with strong local brands, like Marks & Spencer in the UK, to provide our customers with a convenience retail offer that meets the needs of their busy lifestyles."

BP, which has 1,400 branded fuel and retail stores across Australia, expects to complete the deal by the end of 2017, subject to regulatory approval.

The firm revealed in November that profits had nearly halved in the third quarter as it felt the strain from the lower-for-longer oil prices.

The group posted underlying replacement cost profits - the benchmark industry measure - of 933 million US dollars (£762.8 million) for the three months to the end of September against 1.82 billion US dollars (£1.49 billion) a year earlier.

At the start of December, BP announced that it would inject almost 1 billion US dollars (£800 million) to explore the Tortue gas field off the coasts of Mauritania and Senegal.