Mr Looney has risen through the ranks of BP, becoming chief executive officer in February 2020, 28 years after joining the company as a graduate engineer. His stated task is to transform the energy giant into a zero carbon business
In one of his first speeches as the new chief executive of BP, he declared that the new strategy is to turn one of the world’s largest explorers, producers and sellers of hydrocarbons into a net zero carbon business.
One of the tactics he used to research the strategy was to engage with the ’Greta’ generation on social media. “I know a lot of people have views on oil and gas companies and our role in the energy transition,” he said in one Instagram post. “I would like to use this platform to talk openly about that and explain the role BP can play, as I believe we share the same concerns and hopes.”
In the few weeks since his appointment, he has also sat down with investors, partners, policymakers, NGOs, academics and the media all around the world to ascertain what BP’s strategy has to be to both reach the goal realistically and bring investors and stakeholders along for the ride. He is entirely convinced the company can achieve the goal. “Very few companies have both the skill and will to drive the real system change the world needs and wants to see. BP is one of them.”
Mr Looney stated that the fundamentals of the company’s business cannot change. He notes these are delivering safe and reliable operations while delivering BP’s investor proposition of growing cash flow and sustainable shareholder dividends. The signposts for the change in BP’s strategy are:
“The world’s carbon budget is finite and running out fast; we need a rapid transition to net zero. We all want energy that is reliable and affordable, but that is no longer enough. It must also be cleaner. To deliver that, trillions of dollars will need to be invested in replumbing and rewiring the world’s energy system. It will require nothing short of reimagining energy as we know it.
“This will certainly be a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity. It is clear to me, and to our stakeholders, that for BP to play our part and serve our purpose, we have to change. And we want to change – this is the right thing for the world and for BP.”
What does this mean for tanker shipping? The first change is that BP’s largely autonomous business segments – upstream and downstream – will be dismantled and the group reorganised globally into a more focused and more integrated entity, comprising 11 teams. BP trading and shipping activities take a more prominent position as one of three ’integrators’. These are cross-divisional organisations and in the case of trading and shipping, it will be headed by Carol Howle, who is the current head of shipping. Ms Howle and the other 10 heads of the new business units will be key to driving through and integrating the changes. ’Transforming while performing’ is the new mantra.
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