Massive losses should be a warning to big oil that its bonanza is over


Covid has battered the industry, and the race for renewables is speeding up. We are at a tipping point

The final months of 2020 were a tough end to a tough year, according to BP’s chief executive. But Bernard Looney’s verdict on the worst financial year in the industry’s history is a devastating understatement. It was a period marked by thousands of job cuts, battered dividend policies and record multibillion-dollar losses.

BP revealed a full-year loss of $18bn, its first since the Deepwater Horizon disaster more than a decade ago, while US oil giant ExxonMobil reported an annual loss of $22.4bn – its first ever. Shell capped a year in which it slashed its dividend for the first time since the second world war with a debit of almost $20bn.

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