BP scales back exploration arm amid drive to slash emissions

Hundreds of staff have left BP’s arm which hunts for new oil and gas around the world, according to reports, as the company pushes towards a more renewable and green future.

The UK-listed oil giant has cut its team of geologists, engineers and scientists to fewer than 100, down from over 700 just a few years ago, Reuters reported.

It comes around a year after Bernard Looney took the top job at the oil producer, which started off digging for oil in the Middle East more than 100 years ago.

But Mr Looney has set out a transformation plan which, if achieved, would turn BP into something unrecognisable to its first engineers.

The plans, which aim to slash BP’s net emissions to zero by the middle of the century, include a pledge to cut the amount of oil and gas the company produces by 40% by 2030.

The announcement, which was called “encouraging” by long-time B critics at Greenpeace, will require major change at the company.

A view of part of the BP Etap platform (Eastern Trough Area Project) in the North Sea (Andy Buchanan/PA)
A view of part of the BP Etap platform (Eastern Trough Area Project) in the North Sea (Andy Buchanan/PA)

“The winds have turned very chilly in the exploration team since Looney’s arrival.

“This is happening incredibly fast,” an unnamed senior BP staff member told Reuters.

But the change that is sweeping the company has also come at a moment when oil majors around the world were hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In March the price of one type of oil briefly dipped into negative territory for the first time in history, in part because of reduced demand owing to Covid.

The company has also written down the value of the oil in its fields, suggesting that some of it will not be worthwhile to extract, and announced a major plan to slash 10,000 jobs.

BP’s share price has felt the weight of the pandemic, and the other measures, dropping around 40% in the last 12 months.

It is a similar fall to its closest rival Shell, whose shares are 36% lower now then they were towards the end of January last year.