BP has said it “will not rule out further exploration at all” in the North Sea, despite a pledge to cut global oil production by 40% within the decade.
UK country boss Peter Mather told a Scottish Parliament committee on Tuesday that BP “will continue to take opportunities” in the UK sector.
It comes after the energy giant said last month that it would cut production by 40% – or around 1million barrels per day – by 2030 as it works towards becoming a net zero company.
As part of that, BP has said it would continue operations around its “existing hubs”, but would not explore in countries where it didn’t already have a presence.
Earlier this month the firm was awarded three new licences in the Oil and Gas Authority’s (OGA) 32nd licensing round – one in the Central North Sea and two West of Shetland.
Mr Mather was providing evidence to Holyrood’s Climate Change committee when he was asked about the firm’s plans for the sector.
He said: “Very clearly, we will not be exploring in new parts of the world but where we have experience and familiarity, like the North Sea, we will want to continue to be there.
“We believe in the province, we believe that we can add value and do things in the right way in the North Sea, so we will not rule out further exploration at all in that province.
“We won’t chase any difficult, new areas of the world where, frankly, the expense, the risk, is not commensurate with the reward.
“But where we know there are skilled people, there’s a regulatory environment that we know and trust, like in the North Sea, yes we will continue to take opportunities.”
That was followed by a further query from Banffshire and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson, who asked: “Where does the 40% reduction come from if you’re looking to exploit your existing assets in the North Sea, as you’ve just said?”
Mr Mather responded by saying the North Sea “has a role to play” for the firm’s future oil production, as BP is “very bullish” about the region’s net zero plans.
In June, trade body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) unveiled plans for the sector to slash its emissions in half by 2030.
Mr Mather said: “It’s a very fair question. In our industry, typically, every field has a life, it falls off.
“So, in a lot of places, we probably won’t be replenishing, we won’t be renewing our stock, and we won’t be bringing in any new exploration.
“But, you know, 40% reduction in our oil and gas production still means we will be producing 1.5million barrels per day in 2030, but we want those to be the cleanest, most efficient, lowest-emitting barrels that we have in our portfolio.
“That’s where I think the North Sea has a role to play.
“We’re very bullish, frankly, about what the North Sea can do around its own carbon footprint in the province.”