BP CEO reveals plans to become more environmentally friendly as company battles financial downturn

BP CEO reveals plans to become more environmentally friendly as company battles financial downturn

KERRY man Bernard Looney is probably the highest paid Irish employee in Britain.

As CE0 of BP, the man who was brought up on a farm near Kenmare earns up to £11million per year.

But for his money Mr Looney, 49, is expected to come up with radical solutions to unprecedented challenges in the global energy sector.

The Irishman has headed up the oil and gas giant since February.

His entire working life since graduating from college in Dublin has been spent with BP — 28 years in total.

In 2016 Looney became one of the youngest-ever heads of BP’s exploration business, and this year saw him take over the reins of the multinational giant.

Mr Looney is aware that one of the chief problems facing the energy sector is the key part fossil fuels play in climate change; BP is responsible for huge levels of carbon emission every year.

Pressure from campaigners such as Extinction Rebellion has steadily moved climate change up the political agenda, and hence onto the business agenda at boardroom level.

In a recent wide-ranging interview in The Sunday Times, the Kerry man accepted that the use of hydrocarbon fuels —oil, gas, petrol — are steadily becoming more socially unacceptable.

He also revealed that BP had been at risk of losing employees because of concerns over climate change and the oil industry’s part in it. But Mr Looney’s vision of BP becoming a pioneer in green energy production persuaded key people to stay.

He told The Sunday Times: “There’s a view that this is a bad industry, and I understand that. I don’t agree, because if you meet our people, I don’t think you’ll say they’re bad people.

“Good people don’t come to work for a bad company — good people have choices. A lot of people are really energised about what we’re doing.”

Just after Mr Looney’s appointment on February 28, the Covid-19 pandemic arrived on the horizon.

As the coronavirus spread, its aftermath aggravated the already fraught situation that BP was facing because of climate change concerns.

Decrease in fuel demand across the world has caused a dramatic slump in prices.

BP has forecast lower oil prices for decades to come as governments speed up plans to cut carbon emissions in the wake of the pandemic.

In June the company announced that it will take a hit of up to $17.5 billion in the second quarter of the financial year.

The company revealed that it expects a negative impact of between $13 billion and $17.5 billion (approx. £10billion – £13.5billion).

BP will now be shedding 10,000 jobs worldwide.

With this precarious financial situation as a backdrop, Bernard Looney has announced that the company will have to become a "leaner, faster-moving and lower cost organisation" — as well as environmentally friendly.

The financial implications of the pandemic coupled with the task of turning BP into a net zero carbon industry by 2050 — Mr Looney’s stated aim — is likely to occupy much of the CEO's waking hours for the foreseeable future.