BP has halved its shareholder dividend and posted a record $6.7bn quarterly loss after the coronavirus pandemic hit global demand for oil.
The dividend news is another blow for pension funds and private investors who have seen a string of firms cut or halt payouts.
The loss was largely due to BP writing down the value of its assets after it cut its oil price forecasts.
BP said the outlook for oil prices and demand was “challenging and uncertain”.
It also warned that the pandemic could weigh on the global economy for a “sustained period”.
In the short-term, BP said it expected demand for oil could be up to nine million barrels per day lower compared to last year.
It has already announced it will cut 10,000 jobs, with as many as 2,000 set to be lost in the UK.
Oil prices have plunged after the coronavirus virtually shut down major economies.
In April, the price turned negative for the first time in history, meaning producers had to pay buyers to take oil off their hands over fear storage capacity could run out.
BP’s loss for the three months to June compares to a $2.8bn profit in the same period last year.
The oil giant said its dividend would halve to 5.25 cents a share, compared to 10.5 cents in the first quarter.
It follows a similar, earlier move by rival Royal Dutch Shell which cut its first quarter dividend in April – the first reduction to its shareholder payment since the Second World War.
Yet another divi disappointment
By Simon Read, personal finance reporter
The dividend blows for investors and retirement savers just keep on coming.
After Shell cut its dividend for the first time since World War II and Britain’s banks suspended their payouts, BP has now halved its dividend – its first cut for more than a decade.
That is a particularly hard blow for UK pension funds and the army of pensioner investors who rely on the payouts.
BP traditionally generates the largest dividend payment among the big blue chip FTSE 100 giants.
Dividend watchers now reckon the total amount of payouts by British firms will fall by two-fifths in 2020.
Link Group’s Dividend Monitor shows that dividends fell by a 57% in the second quarter of the year as 176 companies cancelled payouts and 30 more have cut them.
That’s not disastrous for investors, but it will be painful.
Despite BP’s loss and a lower dividend, the company’s share price rose by 6.26% to 298.6p as it announced a new strategy.
BP said it wanted to “pivot” from being a traditional oil company to an “integrated energy company” and said it expects to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions for the company by 2050.
Over the next decade, BP forecasts that oil and gas production will fall by at least one million barrels of oil a day, or 40% compared to 2019.
It plans to invest in renewables, bioenergy and as well as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage technology.
Bernard Looney, who took over as BP chief executive in February, said: “This coming decade is critical for the world in the fight against climate change, and to drive the necessary change in global energy systems will require action from everyone.”