BP has renewed its commitment to the North Sea oil and gas industry with a pledge to be a jobs generator for the struggling sector.
The vow came as the global operator posted a headline profit of $115million for the year ending 2016 – a substantial increase on 2015’s $6.5 billion loss.
The oil and gas supermajor has also stripped $7 billion out of its cost base since the price of Brent crude started its downward plunge in 2014.
However, after sharing the «solid results» of 2016 with investors yesterday, BP´s CEO Bob Dudley moved quickly to quell any concerns that recent asset handovers would spell the end of the firm’s investment in UK waters.
Mr Dudley said that the firm remained «very bullish» on the North Sea, although he refused to be drawn on the number of jobs or investment likely to be seen in the region in the coming years.
Several North Sea projects are expected to come onstream later this year, including the West of Shetland’s Clair Ridge development and the Quad 204 project for expanding recovery from the Schiehallion field.
In the last year BP has also doubled its interest in Maersk Oil’s Culzean ‘mega-find’ near the Norwegian border, to 32 %.
And despite admitting that the supermajor’s strength lies with exploiting massive new finds, Mr Dudley said there will be asset handovers and other projects to create growth.
Mr Dudley added: «This is a heartland for BP... We’ve put $8 to $10 billion pounds into the North Sea over the last number of years and we are still going with that – there’s a deep commitment there. We’re planning up to 5 exploration wells in 2017 and we’ve got about 50 development wells over the next 3 or 4 years coming. If we are successful, we will be a jobs generator for the North Sea.»
Mr Dudley admitted the oil major had no plans to rely on a price increase to $60 a barrel and instead said they had forecast for mid-$50 oil for the foreseeable future.
But he warned market stability would depend on OPEC and non-OPEC countries seeing through their commitment to production cuts, designed to reduce an a glut of reserves.