LONDON - Ravaged by tumbling oil prices, BP (IW 1000/5) on Feb. 2 posted the company's biggest loss in at least 20 years and axed another 3,000 jobs.

BP suffered a loss after taxation of $6.48 billion last year, compared with a net profit of $3.78 billion in 2014, it said in a results statement.

The energy major added it would slash 3,000 positions in its downstream business -- including refining, marketing and distribution -- by the end of 2017.

BP had already announced plans last year to axe 4,000 jobs in its upstream division in a radical restructuring of the company.

The latest job cuts take its total cull to 11,000 positions since the start of 2015.

"We are continuing to move rapidly to adapt and rebalance BP for the changing environment," said chief executive Bob Dudley.

"We're making good progress in managing and lowering our costs and capital spending, while maintaining safe and reliable operations and continuing disciplined investment into the future of our portfolio."

Earnings were hit by a $2.6-billion charge in the fourth quarter that was mostly linked to impairments in the upstream division, or exploration and production, as well as restructuring costs.

The company took another $12-billion hit for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, taking its total bill for the tragedy to $55.5 billion.

BP added that underlying replacement-cost profit -- which excludes fluctuations in the value of crude oil inventories -- more than halved to $5.9 billion last year.

The earnings measure tumbled to just $196 million in the fourth quarter, from $2.2 billion a year earlier.

"The lower underlying result was predominantly driven by the impact of steeply lower oil and gas prices on BP’s upstream segment," the company said.

BP added on February 2 that it has now completed its $10-billion asset sale program that was announced in October 2013, and plans to sell a further $3-5 billion of assets this year.

World oil prices had nosedived last month to 12-year lows underneath $27 dollars per barrel, having peaked in the summer of 2014 at about $115.

Roland Jackson, AFP

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016