Little prospect of post-COVID-19 rebound for BP’s oil and gas investments

Following the release of BP’s Q4 2020 financial results, Daniel Rogers, Senior Oil and Gas Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“In 2020 BP invested approximately US$14bn on activities across its portfolio, with oil and gas capital spend down 20% from 2019 levels. With COVID-19 continuing to limit capital allocation, plus growing investments outside oil and gas, it is unlikely that BP’s oil and gas investments will rebound post-COVID-19.

“The impacts of the pandemic have forced BP to limit its capital allocation: the company reduced capital expenditure in 2020 by around 28% and divested over US$6bn worth of assets. The reduction in oil and gas spend was particularly significant and going into 2021 the company expects to spend approximately US$9bn on this segment – around the same level that is targeted for 2025. Over the next few years, capital discipline will remain crucial and as the company continues to increase investment in low carbon and convenience, the prospects of a rebound of investment in its core oil and gas business is unlikely.

“2020 was a pivotal year for BP as the company embarked on its shift in becoming an integrated energy company, increasing investment in renewables and low carbon energy sources, setting out Net Zero emissions targets and re-shaping the company’s workforce as almost 10,000 layoffs were announced.

“The company expects investment in its low carbon and electricity division in 2021 to be around US$2bn, which is a substantial growth from approximately US$0.5bn in 2019. However, this represents just 15% of the company’s total spend for the year, whilst investment in oil and gas related activity is expected to still represent around 70% of the 2021 investment, despite being lower than previously anticipated. COVID-19’s impact accelerating BP’s strategic transition puts the company on track to meet its goal of US$3-4bn of low carbon and electricity investment in 2025; however, investment in the oil and gas business show little prospect of a rebound.”

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