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Time to go for BP’s North Sea boss

Time to go for BP’s North Sea boss
One of the leading figures in the North Sea oil and gas business is to stand down.

One of the leading figures in the North Sea oil and gas business is to stand down.

BP confirmed yesterday that Dave Blackwood, 54, would retire early next year as head of its North Sea business based in Aberdeen, a post he has held for five years.

Mr Blackwood is currently overseas on holiday, but is thought to be planning to stay in the north-east after his retirement.

His successor will be Bernard Looney, a vice-president of BP’s North Sea business in Aberdeen.

He will take over in January.

Ireland-born Mr Looney, 38, is a graduate of University College, Dublin, in electrical engineering. He has been with BP since 1991.

Mr Blackwood is recognised as being among the main movers and shakers in the North Sea.

Among his achievements are bringing into production the Clair field west of Shetland and the Rhum find in the UK North Sea. He has also overseen the opening of the oil giant’s new North Sea headquarters at Dyce.

Malcolm Webb, chief executive of industry body Oil and Gas UK, said: “Dave Blackwood was one of the two founding co-chairmen of Oil and Gas UK. Dave’s vision and strong support was vital in assuring the successful launch of Oil and Gas UK and its expansion to encompass the UK’s world-class supply chain. But Dave’s contribution didn’t start there.

“He has played his part in a number of other roles including as a distinguished member of the team at BP, a member of the former Industry Leadership Team and a member of the government/industry forum known as Pilot.

“All his many friends and admirers within the industry wish him all the very best for the future.”

Keen Celtic fan Mr Blackwood, whose father was a dyer with British Silk Dyeing, at Balloch, studied at Glasgow University where he gained a BSc in electrical engineering. On graduating, he fancied becoming a pilot with British Airways, however, his hopes were dashed when he found out that the airline was not recruiting at that time.

He then joined oil service group Schlumberger as a field engineer and spent the next seven years in Aberdeen, Oman and then Kuwait.

In 1982, Mr Blackwood landed a job in Glasgow with Britoil, before it became part of BP.

Over the next 11 years he did a variety of jobs before returning to Aberdeen as BP’s asset manager for the Eastern Trough Area Project (Etap). Etap linked seven central North Sea fields through a central processing platform.

He then went to Alaska for two years, to become BP’s business unit leader for the Kuparuk and Milne Point fields in the western north slope.

Mr Blackwood was posted to Houston in 2000 to be BP’s vice-president for deepwater developments in the Gulf of Mexico. That job lasted for three years, before his next post took him to Aberdeen.

BP said yesterday it was carrying out conceptual engineering studies to test the potential for further field development at Clair.

A spokeswoman in Aberdeen said: “We successfully drilled and tested three appraisal wells during 2006-07 and completed a 3D survey over the Ridge area.

“We have appointed Amec to begin the conceptual engineering studies, which will take us through to the end of 2009. This work programme, combined with the appraisal data we have acquired, will help the Clair partners to test the design concepts and reach a preferred option for further development.”

Clair had been one of the largest remaining undeveloped reservoirs in the UK continental shelf before production started in February 2005. The first stage of development – costing £650million – has estimated recoverable reserves of 250million barrels of oil, however, a further 4.75billion barrels remain to be tapped.

Mr Blackwood previously said a second phase for the Clair Ridge area could target a further 250-300million barrels of oil.

A standalone platform could be used, but the BP boss did not expect it to come on stream before at least 2012.

Clair was discovered in 1977, but was not brought into production until 2005 because of a variety of factors, including complex geology.

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