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Reasons to watch
1. Strong dividend yield supported by good cashflow
2. Russian sanctions will hinder the Rosneft division
3. Ongoing costs from the Deepwater Horizon Spill
Once known as British Petroleum, now simply as BP, the company has been a part of the UK industrial landscape for over a century. Its interests in what is now Iran meant that it became of vital importance for British imperial interests, with both world wars confirming the need to maintain control of oil supplies. Its position in post-war Iran was clouded by involvement in political machinations, and in the latter half of the twentieth century it acquired new interests outside of the Middle East.
A somewhat gung-ho approach to risk in the 1960s and 1970s meant that it both reaped substantial rewards and earned opprobrium. The Torrey Canyon disaster of 1967 was the worst example, as a ship chartered by BP caused the worst-ever oil spill in UK waters.
The British government slowly sold its interest in BP over a number of years from 1979 onwards and the company continued to evolve, acquiring interests in Russia for the first time in 1990. This would become both a strength and weakness in years to come.
The Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010 was the seminal event in recent BP history. The ramifications have continued to dog the company, with litigation and costs still being calculated.