As anyone knows who's had access to any news source during the past year, given its April tragedy aboard Transocean's (NYSE: RIG) Deepwater Horizon rig, 2010 was likely as tough a year for BP (NYSE: BP) as any company has ever experienced.

For the full 2010 year, the April disaster resulted in the company losing $3.7 billion, its first negative result in a couple of decades. For the sake of perspective, it generated a $16.6 billion profit in 2009.

An increase in crude prices helped BP generate a fourth quarter replacement cost profit of $4.61 billion -- a third above last year's $3.45 billion -- but below analysts' $4.87 billion expectation. The company added another $1 billion to its cost estimate related to the Gulf tragedy, bringing the figure to nearly $41 billion, but said it will reinstitute a $0.07 dividend for the most recent quarter.

However, historic metrics are probably less important for BP than is its forward direction. CEO Bob Dudley said that, "I am determined that we will emerge from this episode as a company that is safer, stronger, more sustainable, more trusted and also more valuable."

For different reasons, much like ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), BP is becoming slimmer and trimmer, having already jettisoned $22 billion worth of non-core assets on its way to a $30 billion target. Partially as a result, its upstream production averaged 3.67 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2010, down 9% from 2009, but above the 3.4 million boe expected this year.

Nevertheless, it was able to replace 106% of its production in 2010. And lest you think that asset sales will shrink BP excessively, it added new acreage in the South China Sea, Indonesia, Azerbaijan and the U.K. during the year.

As you likely know, the company has entered into a share exchange agreement with Rosneft, Russia's big oil company, with an eye to jointly exploring the promising Russian arctic. But BP's partners in its TNK-BP 50-50 Russian joint venture are squawking about the deal, and the parties apparently are headed for arbitration. One wonders whether Dudley, who previously had a rocky time as TNK-BP's CEO, hasn't had his fill of Russian duplicity.

Like Chevron (NYSE: CVX), BP is pruning downstream as well. It's Texas City, Texas, and Carson, Calif., refineries are on the block. The former was the site of a 2005 explosion that led to 15 deaths.  

The biggest question remaining at BP appears to be the amount of liability from the Gulf tragedy that will ultimately hit the company (and its partner Anadarko (NYSE: APC)). By definition, investing always carries risk, but given its still low share price relative to its peers and its pre-accident level, BP's seems worth taking.

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We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have financial interests in any of the above-named companies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.