BP Exec: International Oil Cos Must Keep Frontier Spirit

HOUSTON (Dow Jones), Mar. 9, 2010

Ever since national oil companies began asserting their muscle, international oil companies have stayed relevant by pushing back the frontier of hydrocarbon exploration, and BP PLC (BP) seeks to continue down that path, a top BP PLC (BP) executive said Tuesday.

"We had to sink or swim. And those of us who swam did so by evolving," said Andy Inglis, the company's chief executive for Exploration and Production. In prepared remarks for a speech at the IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates conference in Houston, Inglis added that "ultimately it is that frontier mentality that creates value for shareholders. It is that mind-set that delivers quality to customers and partners."

The conference, known as CERAWeek, is a gathering of some of the world's top energy executives.

The London-based energy giant suffered a series of setbacks in recent times, starting with a fatal explosion at its Texas City, Texas refinery in 2005, and mishaps in its Alaska and Gulf of Mexico operations. But the company initiated a restructuring in 2007 that has paid off recently -- it was the only major integrated oil company to grow profits year-on-year in the fourth quarter due to increased oil and gas production and more efficient refining operations. BP wants to ensure that the "momentum" accumulated in the past two years can be turned into "sustainable delivery for the next decade," said Inglis.

"We are now aiming for a new level of operational excellence," Inglis said.

The company is making the biggest changes to its exploration and production segments since it acquired Amoco in 1998 -- with the aim of cutting costs by more than $1 billion a year through better project management and by improving the efficiency of its drilling operations.

"We have made good progress in replicating best practice but we can go a whole lot further in our efforts to make excellence the norm," Inglis said.

(James Herron contributed to this article)

Copyright (c) 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.