Royal Dutch Shell and BP declined to comment. Shares of Shell were up 2.5 percent.
“BP shares have rallied on the back of enthusiastic buying on talk of Shell’s interest in the company,” said Chris Beauchamp, analyst at IG. “But it seems difficult to believe that Shell would make such a big acquisition at this difficult time for the oil market.”
A fresh slide in the price of crude had wiped tens of billions of dollars off oil companies’ market value on Friday and signalled an end to the sector’s safe-haven status, as fears mounted over future profits and dividend payouts.
Reporting by Alasdair Pal, Atul Prakash, Tricia Wright, Ron Bousso and Dmitry Zhdannikov in London; Editing by Alistair Smout and Pravin Char