The headlines from BP’s Strategy presentation yesterday are all about how chief executive Tony Hayward promised to boost annual profits by $3bn over the next two or three years.
In a frank admission, Hayward said that BP’s financial importance over the last few years had not been acceptable and had “some catching up to do.”
Hayward said that last year the company made savings of $4bn, over half of which was down to efficiencies. He promised that savings would increase this year.
But behind the headlines it is worth looking at where BP sees the oil industry going in the next decade and where it will be looking for its oil and gas in the future.
Despite having once branded itself Beyond Petroleum, BP believes that fossil fuels will remain the dominate source of energy until at least 2030 when the company anticipates that the world will consume around 45% more energy than today.
Most of this energy will come from oil and gas.
In the short-term – up until 2015 – the company’s main forty or so new projects will all be in traditional mature regions such as the North Sea, Azerbaijan, Angola and the Gulf of Mexico. These projects would increase production by about 1 million barrels / day.
But let’s not forget the prize of Iraq. BP has a long history with Rumaila dating back to its discovery in 1953, noted Andy Inglis, the company’s head of Exploration & Production.
BP is hoping that Rumaila will become the world’s second-largest producing field by 2015 if it can more than double production to exceed 2m barrels a day.
But this is only the first of many projects in Iraq, hopes BP. The oil giant admitted it saw this “as the beginning of a long-term relationship with Iraq”. The company is “continuing to look for further opportunities”.
So once you have your hands on the prize you are unlikely to let go, although what happens at this weekend’s election may have a material effect on BP’s Iraq strategy.
Beyond 2015 BP’s upstream growth is focused on deepwater production, global gas production, and managing giant oil fields. The company argues that “significant yet-to-find resources remain in the world’s deepwater basins.”
It predicts that gas use will increase. “Currently we produce approximately 8.5 billion cubic feet per day and expect continued steady growth throughout the decade, with our gas weighting increasing from 40 to 45%.”
Beyond these areas it is interesting as to where BP thinks the oil will come from.
Andy Inglis gives us a clue by saying: “BP’s strength lies in operating at the frontiers of geography and technology, and executing projects at a scale only a few companies can take on … there are many other things I could talk about, such as the Arctic, but they are for 2020 and beyond.”
So BP maybe getting back to basics and investing in oil and gas. But a company that once prided itself on being green sees long-term growth in the Arctic.
BP estimated last year that the Arctic Ocean may hold about 200 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources, or between a quarter and a half of the world’s undiscovered hydrocarbons.
And that can only be a bad thing for this ecologically fragile region.