We could argue about the oil recovery till the cows come home, and debate whether it’s time to buy BP (LSE: BP) shares. We’d get nowhere. But it’s hard to ignore BP’s dividends.

Last year, we got an 8% dividend yield. Analysts have a similar cash sum forecast for this year and next. If that happens, anyone who bought in early 2015 would see a 24% three-year return on their investment from dividends alone!

Will it happen? Chief executive Bob Dudley seems confident it will, telling us at 2015 results time of BP’s expected longer-term growth expectation. He said it “underpins our commitment to sustaining our dividend and then growing free cash flow and shareholder distributions over the long term“.

How long dividends can be maintained at these levels is dependent on the price of the black stuff. But the daily commentary is focused on the short term, and the real question is over the timescale of the recovery, not whether it will happen. Mr Dudley has long said we could be in for a few years of cheap oil, but he still has confidence in BP’s dividend.

Oily support

If you fancy a picks and shovels candidate, which should do well from the oil business in the long term no matter which of the explorers and producers thrive or fail, you could do a lot worse than Petrofac (LSE: PFC). It provides services to the firms at the cutting edge, including designing, building and maintaining oil and gas facilities among other offerings.

Though it has struggled a bit during the downturn and its shares have lost 40% to 873p over the past two years, forecasters expect a return to health this year. With 2015 results, Petrofac told us it expects to “deliver net profit in 2016 consistent with our previous guidance“. Net debt dropped in 2015, to $686m from $733m a year previously, and with a strong order backlog the company said it has “excellent revenue visibility for 2016 and beyond, with embedded margins consistent with guidance“.

All of that, to me, lends confidence to Petrofac’s dividend, which was maintained in 2015 for a 5.8% yield. Analysts expect the same cash this year, with a modest recent share price uptick dropping the mooted yield a little to 5.3%, and it should be very firmly covered by earnings.

Is small beautiful?

Big and reliable dividends from tiny companies are perhaps less common, but Netplay TV (LSE: NPT), with a market cap of just £30m, has provided shareholders with ordinary dividend yields of better than 7.5% for two years. Similar cash levels are forecast for this year and next. A 37% share price rise since the end of 2015, to 10.1p, has dropped the predicted yield to 5.6%, but that’s still tasty and would be around twice covered by forecast earnings.

Netplay is behind gaming and gambling offerings like SuperCasino.com and Jackpot247.com. It’s a competitive market for sure, but Netplay seems to be doing well, reporting a 14% rise in active players in the year to December 2015 and bringing in net revenue of £26.3m.

And the dividend? Chief executive Bjarke Larsen said Netplay is set to “to drive growth and deliver shareholder value“. The firm had a spare £2m to hand back to shareholders and the resulting special payment of 0.68p per share took the total to 1.24p — for a total yield of 17% on the 2015 year-end share price.

Investing in top dividend shares and reinvesting the cash could set you on your way to a cool million. But don't take my word for it, just get yourself a copy of The Motley Fool's 10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market report. It takes you through all you need to know, one step at a time.

What you'll learn, more than anything, is that the secret to long-term financial success is to spend less than you earn, invest your savings in shares, and perhaps most importantly of all... keep a cool head when all around are losing theirs.

What's more, it won't cost you a single penny of your savings to get yourself a copy, so just click here now for your completely free report!

Alan Oscroft has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended Petrofac. The Motley Fool UK has recommended BP. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.