“BP’s CEO Plays Down Renewables Push as Returns Lag” (‘beyond petroleum’ imaging wearing thin)

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — February 2, 2023

“[CEO Bernard Looney] and other BP executives have suggested that the company could play down future investment in areas including solar energy and offshore wind, according to some of the people. Discussions about the company’s direction have caused rifts inside BP over the past year, people close to the company say.”

The Wall Street Journal published a very revealing piece yesterday. “Bernard Looney seeks to sharpen strategic focus, with less emphasis on environmental goals,” reported Jenny Stasburg (February 1, 2023).

She begins:

Chief Executive Bernard Looney plans to dial back elements of the oil giant’s high-profile push into renewable energy, according to people familiar with recent discussions.

Mr. Looney has said he is disappointed in the returns from some of the oil giant’s renewable investments and plans to pursue a narrower green-energy strategy, the people said. He has told some people close to the company that BP needs to do more to convince shareholders of its strategy to maximize profits in areas where it has a competitive advantage, including its legacy oil-and-gas operations.

In some of the conversations, Mr. Looney has said he plans to place less emphasis on so-called ESG goals—a catchall term for environmental, social and governance—to help clarify that those aren’t distracting the company from its ability to deliver profits, the people said.

So trying to appease the enemy is getting unaffordable even with government subsidies? Politically correct, economically incorrect investments are asking for trouble, after all. And when BP’s oil-and-gas foes scream “greenwashing” and demand more bad investments–and threaten to sue for not doing enough (greenhushing)–then BP is wise to wise up.

Of course, BP wants to have it both ways. The article continues:

Mr. Looney, the people said, is casting the moves as a modest short-term course correction rather than a major strategic pivot for the 114-year-old company. 

Investors, the owners of the company, matter:

Analysts and some investors say pledges by BP to shift away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy risk handicapping the company’s performance. Many companies are struggling to transition to new green technologies while still relying heavily on traditional energy sources.

A BP spokesman referred to previous public statements Mr. Looney and BP have made about the company’s strategy, including its commitment to reducing carbon emissions and shifting investments to green energy. Mr. Looney declined to comment through the spokesman.

BP is scheduled to report full-year earnings Feb. 7 after consecutive bumper quarters boosted by massive profit in its natural-gas trading arm. The company will update investors on its strategic progress at that time, the spokesman said.

BP, amid the UK/EU green extremism, has long tried to ‘outgreen’ its Big Oil and Big Gas competitors. It started with John Browne in 1997 and went downhill from there, with imaging about climate change alarm taking priority from real environmental and safety protocols, culminating in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. (Shell went second and has paid a price too.)

Back to the article:

Mr. Looney, a 32-year BP veteran, took over as CEO in early 2020 and soon announced commitments to shrink greenhouse-gas emissions, including from oil and gas the company sells. Analysts said at the time that the new targets went further than rivals’ plans. Investors questioned how renewables could make up for fossil-fuel businesses that typically produced higher—if volatile—returns.

Shares of BP and London-based rival Shell PLC over the past several years have lagged behind those of U.S. competitors, especially the biggest, Exxon Mobil Corp. BP shares are up about 7% from the end of January 2020, having recovered from pandemic lows, while Exxon shares have nearly doubled over the same period.

As European oil companies, BP and Shell face greater investor and government scrutiny over their carbon-reduction plans than do U.S. rivals, which have stuck more to their core oil-and-gas businesses. Still, overall, the sector globally has been caught between some large investors and governments calling for these companies to move away from fossil fuels, while others demand the profits those assets can generate.

Yes, ExxonMobil has dismissed Net Zero as impractical and bad public policy.

Looney knows he cannot be too bold in a transition away from wind and solar, etc. to the real energies that consumers demand.

Mr. Looney has said in some of the recent discussions that the company will continue its push into renewable energy, but with a finer-tuned focus to avoid spreading resources too thinly or relying too heavily on renewables in its broader strategy. He has suggested that areas of continued emphasis will include developing climate-friendly hydrogen, biogas and electric-vehicle partnerships and charging networks, the people said.

He and other BP executives have suggested that the company could play down future investment in areas including solar energy and offshore wind, according to some of the people.

Discussions about the company’s direction have caused rifts inside BP over the past year, people close to the company say.

Final Comment

Like Enron, BP has become a contra-capitalist company, jumping at government subsidies, supporting public policies hurting average consumers, and employing deceit about energy/climate reality. More than “modest short-term course correction” is needed. Looney and BP need to formally renounce what was announced three years ago:

“… we have set ourselves the ambition to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and to help the world get to net zero…. We will need support from partners, investors, policy makers, customers – and trade associations…. (Bernard Looney, CEO, BP, 2020)

That support is gone. The opportunity for the company is now to educate the people on the advantages of oil and gas (and coal) and employ climate data to question scientific exaggeration. (Remaining not-so-green, government-subsidized investments in hydrogen, biogas, and EV ventures need some rethinking as well.) Expect some fireworks, and lots of CO2 emissions, from a reborn BP.

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Tom Halla
February 5, 2023 2:12 pm

BO forgot that when one sups with the Devil, use a long spoon.Appeasing the green blob only goes so far, given that their goal is the destruction of BP.
And industrial society as a whole, but their political allies have not quite admitted that yet.

Reply to  Tom Halla
February 6, 2023 5:27 am

Looks like BP has got BO!?

Scarecrow Repair
February 5, 2023 2:47 pm

I like to describe myself as a short-term pessimist and long-term optimist, and my faith in markets is what sustains me. Markets are like gravity. You can build dams and divert rivers, but that water is going downhill one way or another.

The trouble is that everyone can see the short-term pessimism, with woke gender fluidentity mutilation surgery, pronoun abuse, and all the usual clamor for socialism. But predicting how markets will end these short-term upsets is impossible.

Then along come reports like this, that ESG dam is starting to silt up, a few waves over the top. Is the the beginning of the end, the end of the beginning, or just another wave in the middle of the ocean which will be forgotten tomorrow? Will the next waves be similar, different, who knows? I only know that markets will work around these idiots.

Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
February 5, 2023 3:39 pm

I am with you, I am a big believer in the invisible hand. However I believe groups and individuals need to do more to force the invisible hand. There is a substantial minority, loud, obnoxious and ill Informed. I wouldn’t waste my time on them, they are like a cult. On the other hand there is a relatively small number of politicians, bureaucrats and administrators causing us all kinds of trouble. We need to single them out show everybody all the pain, trouble, heartache and money they have cost us. Go after them hard and constantly, never give them a break. Hold them personally responsible and this nonsense will go away.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Bob
February 5, 2023 11:37 pm

The invisible hand requires freedom of information, not censorship. That was the theme of my former newsletter ECONOMIC LOGIC. Socialism, fascism, and especially Marxism, requires censorship of opposing views, constant government propaganda supported by the mass media and often decades of brainwashing in schools. Just like in the US for too many years. With climate change leading the way since the 1970s.

I consider the US to already be a socialist nation, since 2020, with total spending by all levels if government above 33% of GDP (34.5% in 2022, and even higher in 2020 and 2021)

I’m a libertarian, since 1973. Whish means I support much less government and much more personal freedom.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Reply to  Scarecrow Repair
February 6, 2023 5:29 am

Sadly, in the long term, we will all be dead (some of us even in the relatively short term too!).

Smart Rock
February 5, 2023 2:47 pm

One small step for logic and reason. Let’s hope it sticks.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
February 5, 2023 3:02 pm

BP should take the opportunity to simply admit to their misadventure into wind, solar and fairy dust and show some real leadership by explaining that powering a modern society with more than single digits of wind and solar is a fantasy and an economic sink.

A strong commitment to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking would be timely. (I say this as a long-term BP shareholder, who bought in about a year before the Gulf of Mexico disaster…).

Philip Mulholland
February 5, 2023 3:04 pm

Maybe my frozen BP pension will start to go up again.

February 5, 2023 3:44 pm

Try talking to Steve Kunin more often than every other decade.

February 5, 2023 6:01 pm

Mr. Market is calling on line one and will not leave a message.

It doesnot add up
February 5, 2023 6:32 pm

I guess we should expect Mr Looney to be replaced. BP has had a history of bosses who have done the company no favours: Horton was another. Once he left, the shares trebled in short order. Sad really, because they have had some good people over the years.

Got to keep the loonies on the path
The lunatic is in the hall
The lunatics are in my hall
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paperboy brings more

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

And if the cloudbursts thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear
And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

Reply to  It doesnot add up
February 5, 2023 8:29 pm

It’s more about the money

Money, get away
You get a good job with more pay, and you’re okay
Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
New car, caviar, four-star daydream
Think I’ll buy me a football team

Money, get back
I’m alright, Jack, keep your hands off of my stack
Money, it’s a hit
Ah, don’t give me that do-goody-good bullshit
I’m in the high-fidelity first class travelling set
And I think I need a Learjet

Money, it’s a crime
Share it fairly, but don’t take a slice of my pie
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a rise, it’s no surprise
That they’re giving none away

Richard Greene
Reply to  Redge
February 6, 2023 1:28 am

Money is one of the best songs of about 25,000 songs in my music collection. Pink Floyd did a 2005 version of the song live but they looked old on the video, which was depressing to me. An alternative version, with the lyrics easier to understand than the original, is a good cover by Brit Floyd, considering this song is difficult to play well live and still sound like the original studio recording:

“Money” performed by Brit Floyd – the Pink Floyd tribute show – YouTube

And there is a solo guitar cover by some young hot tamale girl named Dominique, out on a public street. She’s no David Gilmour, but who cares?

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Tom Johnson
February 5, 2023 7:21 pm

Looney certainly has an appropriate name. If you’re going to tie the near future of your multibillion net worth company, it’s best to tie it to technically feasible technology. Net Zero and ESG simply ain’t there.

Even if he ‘turns it around’ short term, he’s already proven that he hasn’t got the technical understanding of his business. He’ll be gone in a year or two, if not sooner.

Rick C
February 5, 2023 8:52 pm

Gotta wonder what all the public posturing and paying tribute to the anti-fossil fuel doomsters does to the morale of the 1000s of BP workers who actually produce the stuff that keeps the company in business. “Great work team – keep it up until we figure out how to get rid of your jobs,” Must make for fun company picnics.

Gary Pate
February 5, 2023 9:10 pm

Mr. Looney is starting to realize it is loony to drink the green koolaid… #ClimateScientology

February 5, 2023 9:47 pm

BP: Back to Petroleum in Nature’s choice

Rod Evans
February 5, 2023 10:46 pm

Well it looks like reality is beginning a come back in the boardrooms of the energy companies that matter. The clowns that have driven and forming Western government policy have been emboldened by the apparent support they have received from the energy majors. We must celebrate. That phase of looney support (pun intended) for false energy options has gone.
A corner may have been turned, allowing a return to sanity in the Western energy policy world,

Richard Greene
February 5, 2023 11:28 pm

Toyota CEO demotes EVs, in favor of hybrids
Toyota CEO forced to resign

BP CEO demotes unreliables
Predicted: BP CEO forced to resign\\

Master Resource is a good website that I visit every day and read every article there. I had recommended this article a few days ago at: Honest Climate Science and Energy

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 6, 2023 1:10 am

“Toyota CEO forced to resign”

I hadn’t heard that.

So uttering common sense will get you fired. I guess that’s not much of a surprise in the world we are living in now.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 6, 2023 1:37 am

CEO Toyoda made waves in the global auto industry by criticizing EVs in favor of hybrids that Toyota does very well. Making waves is NOT popular in Japan. I doubt if the Toyota CEO would have spoken up if he was planning to retire soon, which was possible. If he was planning to retire soon, I believe he would have waited until after he retired to speak up, in my opinion.

His words actually match what US auto engineers working on 2026 EVs are saying (but NOT saying to their executives).

Toyoda suddenly announced leaving Toyota effective Aoril 1,2023, which I do not think is just a coincidence.

Akio Toyoda (豊田 章男, Toyoda Akio, born May 3, 1956, would be 67 years old on May 3, 2023

Toyota CEO and President Akio Toyoda to step down (cnbc.com)

Due Diligence: I own a Toyota Camry, but not any Toyota stock

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Greene
Tom Abbott
February 6, 2023 12:59 am

From the article: ““… we have set ourselves the ambition to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner and to help the world get to net zero”

They set themselves an impossible task. Now it looks like they are realizing it.

Net Zero is delusional.

Richard Greene
Reply to  Tom Abbott
February 6, 2023 1:46 am

What the heck is an ambition?
I had an ambition to be a millionaire by age 69
My actual net worth is $129.

Reply to  Richard Greene
February 6, 2023 5:53 am

What the heck is an ambition?…”

Kinda like this:

February 6, 2023 1:42 am

Bernard Looney has an appropriate family name. When he first became BP CEO back in 2020 he quickly announced that demand for oil had peaked and would never again recover to 2019 levels. He then quickly announced that BP would begin to exit fossil fuel production while jumping headlong into renewables. As soon as I read this nonsense I ask my wife how such foolish people end up in charge of BP. Fast forward three years and oil demand is setting all time highs and BP is sorely lagging its US counterparts by focusing on low return renewables projects.

Kevin Kilty
February 6, 2023 5:28 am

Just as Exxon grew tired of lack of success with oil shale in the 1980s and returned their focus to petroleum. Western slope environmentalists hit hardest.

Andy Pattullo
February 6, 2023 11:17 am

A small glimmer of logic adrift in a sea of insanity.

I wait impatiently for the day when we call things what they are. “Renewable” energy systems that rely on very limited and expensive resources of rare earth metals and lithium, as well as massive amounts of mining for conventional metals and concrete, have a massive carbon foot print in the full life cycle, consume massive amounts of land and sea acreage and which depend on infrastructure with declining efficiency and early retirement are not in any way renewable.

Calling something “green” these days doesn’t mean it is is good for the environment – it means it is good for the pocket book of politically favoured, corrupt trough-feeders who suck the wealth from productive citizens while pretending to be “save the planet” by destroying the natural lands and oceans.

February 6, 2023 1:41 pm

It is disgraceful that petroleum companies like BP went along with the evil anti-human ESG climate scam instead of highlighting the life and environment saving properties of carbon fuels.
These gutless wonders who go woke will go broke.
Major policy reverse long overdue.

Tombstone Gabby
February 7, 2023 6:39 pm

Gave up watching the man after he had Ingrid Newkirk (PeTA) on his show and lavished praise on her and her organization. (“People for the ethical Treatment of Animals”.)

(Not to be confused with PETA, “People Eating Tasty Animals”.)

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