BP chief executive Bernard Looney said today that he wants the company’s oil business to be “the best, not the biggest”.
Speaking at IP Week, Mr Looney said oil and gas would be part of the world’s energy system for decades, under any credible scenario.
Mr Looney also said hydrocarbons would fuel BP’s transition to net-zero by 2050, though it plans to cut production by 40% by 2030.
Mr Looney said BP would still increase earnings from oil and gas over the next five years by bringing on high quality projects.
“We can help ourselves by being smaller,” he said during the webinar, on day two of the event.
He added: “We want to diversify and decarbonise and reducing production brings down emissions.
“We’re going to be in oil and gas for quite some time but we want to be the best, not the biggest.
“That means producing the best barrels as cleanly, profitably and efficiently as possible.
“We will be producing oil and gas in 2050, but it will be carbon neutral. We have 30 years to figure that out.”
The Irishman also reflected on his first year in the job, saying BP could have hit pause on its transformation, but is glad the company pressed on.
He said BP had moved more quickly than he thought possible, highlighting major investments in offshore wind.
Mr Looney also acknowledged having to do some “hard stuff” in the last year, including laying out plans to slash the firm’s headcount by 10,000 and lowering BP’s dividend and oil price assumptions.
But he said BP had become “learner and nimbler” and was in better shape to take advantage of opportunities.
“Transitions are hard, but there is more risk in not changing, than there is in changing,” he said.
Key to BP’s ambitions is giving customers what they want – affordable, clean and reliable energy, Mr Looney said.
“People need our product, but do not always want it,” he said. “We want to give customers what they need and what they want.”
Mr Looney, who used to head up BP’s North Sea oil business, also said he was increasingly confident the company could “bring things” to the renewables table, in terms of its global reach, project execution track record, trading organisation and partners.
Asked which low carbon and emissions reducing technologies he was most excited about, he said hydrogen and CCS.