British Petroleum, the oil juggernaut responsible for the worst oil spill in history, posted a nearly $2 billion profit for the third quarter, despite the fact it has been dealing with the costs of its massive spill.

"The U.K.-based energy giant said net profit for the three months ended Sept. 30 fell to $1.79 billion, compared with $5.34 billion for the third quarter of 2009," the Wall Street Journal's James Herron wrote Tuesday.

"Total revenue for the quarter was up 10% to $74.65 billion from $67.86 billion in the same period in 2009. Diluted earnings per share were 9.4 cents compared with 28.2 cents the previous year," Herron added.

The paper says BP will consider reinstating its generous dividend in February 2011, which it cut in the wake of the spill. So far, the company has set aside $39.9 billion for the costs of cleanup and other charges.

Just as important, Herron notes, is that "the company said the clean replacement cost profit, a keenly-watched figure that strips out the spill costs and gains or losses from inventories and reflects underlying performance, actually rose 18.3% for the period to $5.53 billion, compared with $4.67 billion for the third quarter of 2009. This was well above expectations of $4.60 billion in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of 12 analysts."

Notes Forbes, "Earnings per American depositary share were 59 cents, less than half the $1.60 posted for the third quarter of 2009, but an improvement from a loss of $5.42 in the second quarter."

"For the third quarter, total income reached $4 billion, below Q3 2009's figure of $6.4 billion," Forbes added. "BP realized an average price per barrel of $70.47 for the quarter, and of $3.92 per mcf for natural gas."

The Journal's full paid-restricted story is available here.