BP slows retreat from oil as Russia war drives record profit

Source: BP plc

BP plc said it will cut oil and gas output more slowly this decade after the supply disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boosted prices and delivered record profits.

While the British company said it was doubling down on the transition to cleaner energy with an additional $8 billion of spending to 2030, it will ramp up investments into fossil fuels by the same amount. By the start of the next decade, the company will have higher emissions than previously promised, with oil and gas output down by 25 per cent compared to 2019, compared with its old target for a drop of as much as 40 per cent. 

The strategic shift reflects the new reality since President Vladimir Putin’s military attack on Ukraine, and his use of energy supplies as a weapon against Europe. After years of criticism for their role in causing climate change, oil and gas companies now face calls from governments around the world to boost production. 

“We’re going to invest more into today’s energy system,” BP Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney said in an interview on Tuesday. “And that, of course, is a hydrocarbon system.”

BP isn’t alone in adjusting its long-term strategy. Last week, Shell Plc, which also has a goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, said it would expand its natural gas business while holding investment steady this year in its renewables unit.

More oil and gas will necessarily mean more carbon emissions, despite the growing urgency to curb planet-warming gases and limit the worst impacts of climate change. Earlier this year, BP’s own economists said the world’s carbon budget is running out. The company now aims to cut the carbon from oil and gas its produces by 20 per cent to 30 per cent in 2030, down from a previous ambition of as much as a 40 per cent cut. It still it aims to cut its own direct emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.

In a strategy update published alongside fourth-quarter earnings, in which BP announced a record 2022 profit of $27.65 billion, the company said it will boost spending in both its fossil fuel and low-carbon businesses. It plans additional investment of as much as $8 billion in each segment by the end of the decade.

For oil and gas, BP will target its spending to boost production as quickly as possible. That would mean investments such as added drilling capacity in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea and the Permian shale formation in the US. 

“This is about production that can be brought on over the near- to medium-term to help people with the supply issues that they’re facing,” Looney said. 

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

Dear user, please be aware that we use cookies to help users navigate our website content and to help us understand how we can improve the user experience. If you have ideas for how we can improve our services, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to email us. By continuing to browse you agree to our use of cookies. Please see our Privacy & Cookie Usage Policy to learn more.