Bernard Looney, the CEO of BP since February, has emphasised that he expects to proceed with the company’s plan for net-zero emissions despite the challenges the COVID-19 crisis has posed, with BP even reporting a loss in the first three months of this year.
While some may expect BP, which also makes lubricant products under the Castrol brand, to moderate its ambitions in the circumstances, Looney told the Guardian that he is more certain than ever of the need to be actively involved in the energy transition. He also said that the pandemic has only exacerbated the medium-to-long-term challenges the oil industry was already facing.
He pointed out that the oil companies’ traditional business model was already being pressured by a growing renewable sector and a desire to take action on climate change. In future, he says demand for oil may never fully recover as businesses and people reconsider whether it’s really necessary to return to the daily commute. He said:
“We’re all living and working differently right now. Not all of that will stick, but some of it will stick for sure. The question I have is whether consumers will consume less, and I think there is a possibility that they will.”
Looney did concede that future investment may be slightly lower due to the current challenges, but he reaffirmed his belief in the plan he laid out in February, where investment would shift towards renewable-based businesses like its Lightsource solar energy business, which recently agreed 400MW in energy contracts.