British Petroleum (NYSE: BP) is said to be considering spilling cash – not oil – to its public shareholders. Shareholders of the oil giant, which is infamous for being responsible for the oil spill off the Gulf coast region in June, the worst oil spill in history, are calling for the company to pay a dividend once again.
Robert Dudley, its CEO, talked with reporters about exploration, expansion and what the company learned from the Gulf coast disaster last year at the World Economic Forum. He did not specifically talk about paying a dividend.
BP shareholders and analysts said that the company is likely start offering a $5 billion per-year dividend, as it has so far raised $22 billion from asset sales to help pay for the mess it created when its oil rigs off the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi last year spilled about 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Shareholders want the company to expand its asset sales beyond the $30 billion target when it announces its annual results on February 1 in order to pay for the dividend.
Before the Gulf coast spill, BP paid an annual dividend of about $10 billion, yielding 6 percent. An annual payment of $5 billion would represent about a 6 percent dividend yield.
At the Forum, Dudley spoke to reporters about the company’s expansion plan via its $8 billion stock swap with Russian rival, OAO Rosneft – a deal that would give BP the ability to explore Russia’s Arctic continental shelf, which is said to be one of the last unexplored oil regions in the world.
A court in London will announce its ruling on whether to allow the stock swap. BP shares are down 1.56 percent at midday, as oil has risen 4.27 percent in the wake of violent protests in the Middle East.