London — BP said it will need a crude price of about $40 a barrel in 2021 to cover spending and dividends, down from $60 in 2017, as CEO Bob Dudley seeks to reassure investors on the oil major’s growth outlook and finances. The break-even level would fall as BP kept capital spending at no more than $17bn a year, the London-based company said in a statement on Tuesday. It aims to raise output by 5% a year to 2021 and is targeting returns of more than 10%. Dudley is seeking to return BP to growth after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the market downturn of the past three years shrank the scale of its operations. The CEO must also show investors he will keep spending in check as crude prices remain at half the levels of 2012 and 2013. "We can see growth ahead right across the group," Dudley said in the statement. "While always maintaining our discipline on costs and capital, BP is now getting back to growth — today, over the medium term and over the very long term." BP’s shares e...

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