If the price of oil rises further, the firm’s move away from oil and gas output will fuel doubts
It’s hard to keep up with oil companies’ dividend policies. One minute they’re slashing payments to shareholders in the face of a pandemic that, supposedly, had permanently lowered the outlook for oil prices. The next they’re saying the coast is clear and divis can rise again.
Shell last week provided a classic example of this stop-start approach when, having cut by two-thirds last year, it announced a 38% increase. BP offered a less chaotic picture on Tuesday but the basic plot was similar. Last year’s halving of the divi was followed by a 4% increase, rather than the previously flagged zero.