BP profits eased to $5bn (£4bn) in the first quarter of the year, but the rewards for shareholders are being stepped up.

Underlying replacement cost profit between January and March compared to $6.2bn in the same period last year but $4.8bn achieved in the previous three months.

The figure was $700m higher than financial analysts had forecast.

The company described it as a resilient result which reflected an “exceptional gas marketing and trading result, a lower level of refinery turnaround activity and a very strong oil trading result”.

It rewarded shareholders with a 6.6 cents per share dividend payment – up from 5.4 cents a year ago.

The sum was, however, static on the fourth quarter award and BP also scaled back the size of its recent share buybacks to $1.75bn.

BP revealed details on its current performance as the government continues to face pressure to raise windfall taxes on energy giants to better cover the costs of energy support schemes.

Labour argues the taxpayer should not be enduring so much of a burden for record household bills at a time when the likes of BP and Shell are benefiting from soaring prices linked to the war in Ukraine.

For its part, the government says it has to encourage continued investment in UK energy security.

Wholesale natural gas prices have tumbled from the record highs witnessed last year but remain elevated while oil costs are currently reflecting the slowdown in the global economy linked to the inflation problem.