"Chevron and Exxon have been very clear that the dividend is their top priority, so I think that is going to stand put. ... But I think Europe is a very different story," said David Seaburg, head of equity sales trading with Cowen & Co.
The trader points to the recent dividend reduction by Italian oil company Eni, saying it could foretell further cuts by European oil companies. (The British oil and gas company Ensco has already slashed its dividend, as has the Swiss rig company Transocean.)
Stacey Gilbert, head of derivatives strategy at Susquehanna, says the options market broadly agrees with Seaburg's take—American oil dividends are safe, while fat European dividends like BP's could be subject to downside. In fact, she says that BP options are pricing in a small dividend cut in 2016, something on the order of 10 to 20 percent.
When reached for comment, BP spokesman Scott Dean told CNBC: "Our commitment to the dividend is the first priority within our financial framework. With the interventions we are making, we believe we have sufficient flexibility to support our dividend in 2015 in the current price environment, while staying within our gearing band. Over time, our intention is to grow distributions in line with the improving circumstances of the firm and to maintain a progressive dividend policy."
BP's staunch support of its dividend echoes Wall Street's view that for now, the odds of a big dividend cut appear small.
There's a "very low probability" of a cut by any of the big U.S. oil companies, said Fadel Gheit, an oil company analyst with Oppenheimer. "The dividend is the only way they compensate their shareholders, since they have no growth."