BP is looking to acquire more green energy firms, as the British oil giant pledged to set carbon targets for its operations.
However, while the chief executive, Bob Dudley, said the industry was in a period of major change, he made clear that hydrocarbons would remain the core of BP’s business.
“It’s not a race to renewables, it’s a race to lower greenhouse gas emissions. As fast as renewables and clean energy can grow, faster than any fuel in history, the world is going to require oil and gas for some decades to come,” he said.
The company reported last week that higher oil prices and growing crude production had pushed up profits 139% in 2017 to $6.2bn (£4.5bn) on an underlying replacement cost basis, the company’s preferred measure.
Dudley said the firm had enjoyed its most successful year for exploration since 2004. The company said it would start six new oil and gas projects this year, up from five previously, as it outlined a plan to return to growth into the next decade.
But much of the company’s strategy update focused on clean energy, which BP said would amount to around $0.5bn of its $15bn-$16bn capital expenditure programme. The carbon targets, including one for methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, will be announced by BP in the next two months.
Discussing the shift to green energy, Lamar McKay, the deputy chief executive, said: “Our industry is changing faster than any of us can remember, certainly in my career.”
BP recently bought a $200m stake in Europe’s biggest solar developer, returning to solar power six years after it quit the sector, and is reportedly eyeing other bigger solar investments.
The oil company is not the only one active in diversifying its business. In the last three months of 2017, its Anglo-Dutch peer, Shell, bought a Dutch car-charging network, partnered with the electric car charging firm Ionity and bought First Utility, one of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers.
One of the most eye-catching energy innovations of the last year – the deployment of the world’s first floating windfarm – was undertaken not by a renewables developer but Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil. Meanwhile, France’s Total took a 23% stake in the renewable energy firm Eren for €237.5m (£211m).
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