In general, the big oil companies have a hard time unlocking value in their shares, even with strong cash flow and with investors not rewarding them for discoveries that may pay off in future years. The fluctuations in the price of oil hold sway over their market value in the near-term, and one-off discoveries are not enough to move the needle for these companies. BP is a magnified version of this dilemma for all the big oil companies because of the Gulf of Mexico spill overhang and Rosneft deal failure.

This doesn't mean that a refining and marketing spinoff makes strategic sense for the company, but it means BP better have an answer prepared on why it doesn't make sense before its earnings call on Tuesday. One potential answer would be to announce the successful sale of either Carson City or Texas City. That might call off the spinoff dogs, at least for the time being.

BP announced on Monday that is has been awarded two deepwater exploration and production blocks by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. BP's Trinidad operations already account for more than half of Trinidad and Tobago's natural gas output and 12%of BP's global oil and gas production. The awards will double the acreage held by BP controlled companies in Trinidad and Tobago.

BP shares were up 1.5% on heavy volume at mi8d-day, even as the energy sector was close to flat in trading.

-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.

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