BP shares fall to 13-year low

BP’S SHARES continued their fall yesterday hitting a 13-year low as the embattled oil major admitted that the “financial consequences of the spill will be severe”.

The group’s share price plummeted to 328.50p at its lowest point yesterday but regained some ground near the end of the day to close at 334.20p. The fall marks the shares lowest level since February 1997.

The sell-off was a response to increasing concerns over how much the company will have to pay for the spill and the related liabilities.

BP chief of staff Steve Westwell, who spoke instead of chief executive Tony Hayward at an oil conference in London, attempted to reassure his audience that its balance sheet is strong, with a good asset base.

He said: “The causes of the accident are still being investigated and it is too early to draw final conclusions, but there is no doubt that this terrible accident will have a profound impact not only on how we run BP, but also on the rest of the energy industry.”

Hayward, who was to deliver the speech on the responsibility of the oil industry in deepwater drilling, is preparing to relinquish his role leading the spill response to Bob Dudley.

The embattled oil chief is preparing to travel to Russia, where he will meet with the company’s business partners and industry bodies in the region.

Meanwhile, oil chiefs have begun to rally around BP, urging President Obama to lift the six-month ban on deepwater drilling put in place in the wake of the disaster. But the political storm over the spill continues to rage in the US, with Democrats slamming their rivals over their links to the firm.