BP will continue its raised dividend policy on the back of higher profits for the oil company as long as oil prices continue their upward trajectory, the company's CEO Bob Dudley told CNBC Tuesday.
BP BP increased its dividend by 14 percent to 8 cents a share.
“The increase in the dividend of 14 percent is good progress. It reflects the momentum going into 2012, the improved circumstances for the company. It is our intention to build up a progressive dividend policy, it depends on oil process and a number of things," Dudley said in an interview.
BP reported fourth-quarter profits of $7.61 billion up from $4.6 billion during the same period last year.
On the company’s disposal program Dudley said it was “on track”.
“We’ve announced more than $21 billion of a program that will go to $38 billion by the end of 2013, so it is on track. We don’t have large, single asset sales but a variety of things across the portfolio that will be more valuable to others than BP and allow us to focus more,” he added.
He said the company was also selling two of its North American refineries which he hoped would be completed by the year end.
Dudley also said that the company was preparing “vigorously” for lawsuits related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which are due to start later this month.
“We’ve said all along that we are open to a settlement but we are preparing vigorously for the trial on the 27th,” he added.
He said he had concerns about the effect on the high price of oil - on Tuesday Brent Crude hovered at the $115 a barrel level - on the consumer in these more austere times.
“Yes, this is good for investment, for investors but I worry that the consumer in various countries in these tight conditions will be affected if this moves up faster,” he said.
Dudley said that while all eyes were on the Middle East, the region did not top the company’s concerns.
“All eyes are on the Middle East right now. We have operations in Egypt which have worked continuously without interruptions, we also have operations in Abu Dhabi and Iraq. Our eyes are on this very carefully but it does not completely dominate our concerns and reason and cooler heads will prevail in the Middle East,” Dudley said.