Controversial oil major at the leading edge of energy
The modern world was built using petro-chemicals and BP has been at the forefront of their provision from the start, and has kept pace with emerging competition through a combination of incumbency and innovation.
Founded in 1908 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, it rebranded to British Petroleum in 1954, was privatised under Margaret Thatcher in the late 1980s, and is now the fifth largest oil major by market capitalisation.
From its London headquarters it runs operations across 72 countries worldwide and employs 75,000 people. Its largest division is in the US and it has a 20% stake in Russian major Rosneft, the world’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company by production.
BP is vertically integrated, which means it is involved in the entire global energy business, and is “one of only a very few companies equipped to deliver light, heat and mobility on a global scale.”
The company has been involved in several major environmental and safety accidents in recent decades, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest accidental release of oil into marine waters in history. The business has professed its commitment to a sustainable future in various ways, including a brief rebrand to Beyond Petroleum in the 2000s.
Today it is shifting its focus away from oil and towards gas, and it is investing heavily in big data and the industrial internet of things in order to manage its existing assets more efficiently. The message is "more energy and fewer emissions - we see #possibilitieseverywhere to help the world solve the dual challenge." At a time when public discourse is focused on climate change, BP's strategic intent will be under constant scrutiny.