BP Closes Door on Alternative Energy


After more than 10 years of working toward a carbon-constrained solutions, BP has shut its alternative energy headquarters in London, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. 


BP spokesman David Nicholas told London’s Guardian about 80 staff members in the company’s alternative energy division would be relocated to the corporate head office, and spending on alternative energy this year would decline to between $500 million and $1 billion; last year it was about $1.4 billion. In addition, Vivienne Cox, the division’s chief and BP’s most senior female executive has resigned. 


BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, is said to be playing for market favour by refocusing BP as a pure oil company, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. BP shares grew almost 1% in London trade last night, after being down in recent weeks.


Greg Bourne, formerly BP’s Australasian regional president with more than 30 years in the oil industry, said BP’s alternative energy division came about thanks to long-term thinking in the 90s about the future of fossil fuels.


“What was interesting and quite palpable was the pride and hope that it engendered in employees around the world,” Bourne said. “Here we were standing up and recognising the biggest single issue facing the planet and we were going to play a part, very progressively. I am disappointed for the organisation that they’ve left this behind, and I think many other people within BP would be as well. You must wonder where BP’s future now lies.”


Investments in alternative energy have been affected by recent lower oil prices, and it has been hard to gain financing for the project due to the the financial crisis.


Last November, BP closed its solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant at Homebush Bay, the largest such plant in Australia, which resulted in the loss of 200 jobs. 


Nicholas said the decision to shut the alternative energy office, was “a real estate thing,” making use of space freed up by recent job cuts. Nicholas also said BP had not changed direction and was on track to invest the $8 billion over 10 years, which it announced when it launched the alternative energy strategy in 2005. 




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