‘Oil’s good for another 20 years or more – but renewables are coming of age’ says BP chief

Bob Dudley
Bob Dudley

BP has a dual mission to deliver the energy that the world needs today while advancing towards a low carbon future, said Bob Dudley, group chief executive.

Speaking at an industry conference in London, Dudley explained how BP today is pursuing its mission in a different way, informed by what it has learned over recent years.

He said: “People expect us to help drive emissions down, further and faster. I’m proud to say we’ve been focused on that in BP for more than 20 years. At the same time, they also expect us to keep the lights on. We’ve been doing that for more than 100 years and we’re not going to let them down. 

“It’s our job to deliver what the future requires and also what today demands. Those aren’t mutually exclusive positions. We can and must do both.

“So, rather than bolting on a whole series of low carbon businesses, as we have in the past, we’re building low carbon into what we do, across the business – and in ways that will generate value over the long-term.

“We’re making smarter, and in many cases, smaller bets, and making more of them across a wider range of technologies and business models.

“At the same time, we are just as committed to our traditional oil and gas business.

Despite the attraction of renewables, the world can’t run on them alone at the moment, and won’t for some time.

Of all the energy used by the world right now, 3% comes from renewables. That might go up anywhere between 10% and 30% or more in two decades’ time, depending on the speed of the transition.

“And even if it grows at the slowest predicted rate that means it will penetrate the energy system faster than any fuel in human history. That’s remarkable. So, renewables are clearly coming of age.

“But let’s also recognise that oil today is not the same as the oil in the family car when you were growing up. The engine’s not the same either.

“Most of that difference is accounted for by gains in fuel efficiency from better conventional engines, from hybrids and – to a small degree – from battery-powered vehicles (BPVs).

“Natural gas is another big lever for lowering greenhouse gas emissions – provided that methane is controlled.

“You only have to look at the situation in the US where greenhouse gas emissions are back down to where they were in the 1990s.

“That’s largely because the shale revolution has produced abundant, cheaper gas, which has been displacing coal in the American energy mix.

“To limit global warming to below 2oC shouldn’t be about a race to renewables alone; it’s about a race to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“That’s a big lesson we’ve learned over the last 20 years.”

BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg announced yesterday that he will retire after the company’s 2018 annual meeting after eight years in the job.

Dudley added: “BP’s comeback would not have been possible without the strong leadership and steadfast support of Carl-Henric and the board. Together we were able to honour our commitments to the Gulf <Deepwater fatal oil well blow-out> while rebuilding BP into a safer, stronger company.

“We devised a strategy to weather the downturn in the oil market while returning to growth. And we committed to playing a leading role in the energy transition while delivering oil and gas more efficiently.”

20 Oct 2017



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