BP shares rose nearly four per cent in early trading after it posted its highest profit for 14 years and unveiled further plans to return cash to shareholders as it was signalled that “the debate over the rights and wrongs of BP’s bumper profits will run and run”.

The energy giant, which has significant assets in the North Sea including Clair Ridge, posted second-quarter profits that more than trebled against last year as it joined Shell in continuing to reap the benefits of soaring oil and gas prices.

The oil major reported underlying replacement cost profits - its preferred measure - jumping to a far better-than-expected $8.5 billion (£6.9bn) for the three months to June 30, up from $2.8bn (£2.3bn) a year ago.

BP also delivered cheer to investors, with a 10% rise in the dividend shareholder payout and by ramping up its share buyback plan with another $3.5bn (£2.9bn) due before the end of September.

The results come as households struggle to meet spiralling bills amid concerns over profits of oil and energy firms following similar results from Shell and also British Gas owner Centrica last week.

The UK Government is introducing a windfall tax on the profits of energy companies, but it has faced criticism for giving strong incentives to allow companies to invest in oil and gas, while there are no tax incentives in the policy for green investment.

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“The introduction of the levy will result in a one-off non-cash deferred tax charge of an estimated $0.8bn to reflect the higher tax rate now applicable to existing temporary differences unwinding over the period October 1, 2022 to December 31, 2025,” BP said. “As the legislation was substantively enacted after June 30, 2022, this charge will be presented in the third quarter 2022.”

BP also forecast that crude oil and gas prices will remain high over the third quarter.

Its reported half-year figures were impacted by a $24.4bn (£19.9bn) hit from the firm’s move to ditch its near-20% stake in Russian oil producer Rosneft in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

HeraldScotland: Bernard Looney, BP chief executive, said the group is continuing to "perform while transforming".Bernard Looney, BP chief executive, said the group is continuing to "perform while transforming".

Bernard Looney, BP chief executive, said: “Our people have continued to work hard throughout the quarter helping to solve the energy trilemma - secure, affordable and lower carbon energy.

“We do this by providing the oil and gas the world needs today - while at the same time, investing to accelerate the energy transition.”

Russ Mould, AJ Bell investment director, said: “The debate over the rights and wrongs of BP’s bumper profits will run and run but, from the narrow perspective of investment, the oil major’s latest share buyback means FTSE 100 members are on track to return record amounts of cash to their shareholders in 2022.”

Mark Ruskell, environment spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said: “We need real and immediate action from the Treasury before costs go up again. That means a meaningful windfall tax to deliver real relief for people here and now, but it also means a major investment in renewable energy so that we can finally break the link between fossil fuel prices and household bills.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland said such results show that the UK energy system is “fundamentally broken”.

Offshore Energies UK, a trade body representing 400 companies in the offshore energy sector, said the rise in profits was due to an increase in prices across the world.

“Quarterly and annual results only give you a snapshot showing what has been happening in recent months, so they do not tell you much about longer-term trends,” said Will Webster, of OEUK. “It’s worth remembering that prices have been volatile in recent years with producers also experiencing periods with low returns and losses.”

Shares in BP closed up 11p, or 2.8%, at 403.35p.

HeraldScotland: BP. Source: London Stock ExchangeBP. Source: London Stock Exchange