BP (NYSE:BP), the new star of Big Oil, has kicked off the group's latest slate of earnings. The company did a solid job of positively surprising its shareholders and investors in general.

For the quarter, revenue was $67.9 billion, down 35.8% year over year. BP posted a net profit of $5.3 billion -- lower than the $8.1 billion in the comparable quarter a year ago, but substantially exceeding analysts' expectations. Indeed, if you back out one-time items and the effects of inventory changes, BP earned $4.67 billion, a healthy difference from Wall Street's $3.25 billion forecast. At the same time, it doubled its cost-reduction target to $4 billion for the year.

BP has set a high bar for a week that will include results from most of the world's largest integrated oil companies, including ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Shell (NYSE:RDS-A), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP). But earnings season thus far hasn't been kind to all energy companies. For instance, Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), the biggest of the oilfield-services players, reported a noteworthy disappointment.

On the upstream side, BP's production for the quarter represented a 7% increase from the same quarter of 2008. However, when you factor out the effects of the hurricanes that swept through the Gulf of Mexico during the third quarter of 2008, this year's increase amounted to only 4%. Downstream saw an expected slide over 2008's results, largely affected by a roughly 50% drop in refining margins, but results showed sequential improvement.

The most recent quarter was also noteworthy for BP's "giant discovery," the Tiber Prospect. As operator and 62% owner, BP found the reserves in conjunction with Conoco and Brazil's Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico. And on the first day following the close of the quarter, BP and Sonangol, Angola's national oil company, announced the Tebe oil discovery in deep waters offshore from that country.

During the past couple of years, since Tony Hayward assumed the CEO role at BP, the company has continued to chalk up one success after another. As such, I strongly believe that the company merits continued attention, especially as energy commodities continue their slow trudge upward.

BP is a five-star company in our Motley Fool CAPS community. Head for the company's CAPS page and add your opinion to that ranking.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies listed. He welcomes your comments. Petroleo Brasileiro is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.