Nearly £7billion was wiped off the value of BP amid growing fears that its crucial dividend payout to shareholders will be suspended.
The shares fell 9.3 per cent, with City analysts warning that they will fall even lower in the coming weeks.
Since the oil rig explosion in April, the market capitalisation of the company has almost halved, losing about £55billion in value.
The BP board met in London to discuss whether or not to pay a dividend, which Barack Obama has put the company under
pressure to scrap in favour of refunding victims of the oil spill. Yesterday a BP spokesman said the company would not be revealing the outcome of the crucial meeting.
But scrapping the dividend would hit, in particular, elderly investors who rely on the income.
Last year, BP handed out around £7billion, paying £1 in every £7 of dividends paid out by companies in the FTSE 100.
BP said it had so far spent around £1billion on its ‘response’ to the disaster, but it was ‘too early to quantify other potential costs and liabilities associated with the incident’.
More than 50,000 claims have been submitted to BP, which has repeatedly insisted that it promises to meet every legitimate one.
To date, it has paid out £42million to more than 26,500 claimants, which is equal to nearly £1,600 each.
Rival oil giant Chevron told the Wall Street Journal that the Gulf of Mexico explosion was a ‘preventable’ incident.
Chief executive John Watson said his company had policies and procedures in place that could have avoided the explosion that triggered the spill.