United Kingdom

BP and Shell shares hit lowest level in 25 years 

Shares in BP and Shell crashed to 25-year lows as oil prices fell.

The two energy supermajors saw their shares sink as the price of Brent crude dropped back below $40 per barrel.

BP was down 3.1 per cent, or 7p, to 218.2p, and Shell fell 3.5 per cent, or 32.9p, to 907.3p – levels not seen since 1995.

Share slump: BP was down 3.1 per cent, or 7p, to 218.2p, and Shell fell 3.5 per cent, or 32.9p, to 907.3p – levels not seen since 1995

Fears are growing over a rising number of coronavirus cases globally and what that could mean for energy demand.

Oil prices have been hit badly during the crisis, as car usage, international travel and cruise holidays ground to a halt.

That has hammered demand and led to huge oversupply in the market, sending Brent tumbling from around $70 at the start of the year.

And traders have been spooked again in recent days as social distancing restrictions have been announced in European countries, including the UK.

Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at The Price Futures Group, said: 'The oil market can't shake its demand fear funk.'

On top of the pandemic's impact, prices are also being dragged lower by oversupply from countries in the Opec cartel. 

Supply from those countries increased by 160,000 barrels per day from August to September, a Reuters survey found.

The difficult times – coupled with a growing shift towards greener energy sources – have prompted BP to slash 10,000 jobs this year while Shell is axing up to 9,000.

BP has also cut capital spending by 25 per cent to bolster its finances and Shell cut its dividend for the first time since the Second World War.

Shell earlier this year booked a £17bn writedown on the value of its assets because of the pandemic. 

It expects Brent crude prices of $50 a barrel by 2022 and $60 by 2023, underlying how long industry figures expect the recovery will take.

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