BP’s main activities are exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas; refining, marketing, supply and transportation; and manufacturing and marketing of petrochemicals. It also has a growing activity in gas and power, and in solar power generation. BP has around 80,300 employees, a turnover of $297bn (2010) and operations in 100 countries on six continents.
Download the The ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies listing here
BP was founded in 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Co to develop oil fields in Persia (Iran). At that time, 97% of the shares were owned by Burmah Oil but in 1914 the UK government injected 2m of new capital into the company in return to a majority shareholding. Much later, the government's shareholding was reduced and ended in 1987 apart from a tiny residual holding. Meanwhile, in 1935, the company was renamed Anglo-Iranian Oil Co.
Anglo-Iranian entered the field of petrochemicals when it formed a joint venture with Distillers in 1947, later to become known as British Hydrocarbon Chemicals. Initially it produced basic chemicals from naphtha at Grangemouth.
A major crisis was precipitated when the Iranian government passed legislation in 1951 nationalising the company's assets in Iran. After three years of negotiations, a consortium of oil companies restarted the Iranian oil industry. Anglo-Iranian, which held a 40% share in the consortium, was renamed The British Petroleum Co in 1954. BP has since grown through a number of acquisitions, the more recent being Amoco, Burmah Castrol and Arco.
In 2005, in the petrochemicals sector, BP announced the consolidation of the olefins and derivatives businesses into a stand-alone entity called Innovene. BP had previously announced that it was to sell Innovene to INEOS on 7 October 2005. The sale was completed on 16 December 2005.
On 16 December 2005, BP completed the sale of its Innovene petrochemicals business to INEOS. The sale included all Innovene's manufacturing sites, markets and technologies except its ethylene oxide assets in Germany.
On 1 September 2006, INEOS completed the acquisition of the remaining 460,000 tonnes/year ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol business in Dormagen, Germany.
The deal received permission from the European Commission on 11 August 2006, after it had previously been held back since March 2006, due to concerns about market concentration.
(Please see INEOS company report for more information).
Please see BP agrees to sell $7bn in assets to US Apache as spill costs rise and BP talks with potential buyers over asset sales underway on ICIS news.
In February 2008, the European Commission (EC) approved the takeover of BP’s acetate business by INEOS. The deal, announced on 11 January 2008, will see INEOS take control of BP’s vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) and ethyl acetate (etac) operations based in Hull, UK, as well as the Teesside-to-Saltend ethylene pipeline (TSEP).
The etac business will be integrated into the INEOS Oxide division. The VAM unit will become part of INEOS Enterprises.
The deal was previously announced in January 2008.
The group is organised into two business sectors: Refining & Marketing and Exploration & Production and an alternative energy business.
Refining and Marketing
The Refining and Marketing business segment is responsible for the supply and trading, refining, marketing and transportation of crude oil and petroleum products to wholesale and retail customers. BP markets its products in over 100 countries, operating primarily in Europe and North America, but also in Australasia, parts of Southeast Asia, Africa and Central and South America.
Refining and Marketing covers four main activities: refining, retail, lubricants and business to business marketing. In all four areas, its aim is to grow through focused investment, to deliver greater operational efficiency and to build its assets.
BP's aromatics and acetyls businesses have been added to the Refining and Marketing segment. BP has proprietary technology in these areas as well as strong positions in the Asian markets.
BP's reconfigured petrochemical businesses are currently made up of:
Acetyls - BP is a supplier of acetyls products with its main products being acetic acid and acetic anhydride.
Aromatics - Its aromatics business link BP's oil and chemicals operations, managing the supply, marketing and sales of its portfolio of aromatics products. These include mixed xylenes, benzene, toluene, paraxylene and other aromatics streams.
PTA/ Polyester intermediates - BP is a producer of purified terephthalic acid (PTA). It produces PTA from plants in the US, Belgium, Brazil, Korea, Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Exploration and Production
The Exploration and Production business segment undertakes both upstream and midstream activities. Upstream activities include oil and natural gas exploration, field development and production. Midstream activities cover the management of crude oil and natural gas pipelines, processing and export terminals as well as liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing facilities.
BP has exploration and production interests in 25 countries. Its main areas of activity include the US, UK, Russia, Norway, Canada, South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The most significant midstream activities are in three pipelines - the Trans Alaska Pipeline System along with the Forties Pipeline System and the Central Area Transmission pipeline system, both located in the UK sector of the North Sea. It also operates three major LNG plants - in Trinidad with the Atlantic LNG plant, in Indonesia through the joint venture operating company Virginia Indonesia Co.
(VICO) and in Australia through our share of LNG from the North West Shelf natural gas development.
The Gas, Power and Renewables business segment was transferred into the exploration and production segment in 2007.
The business segment is organised around four main activities:
Marketing and trading - focused mainly on North America, the UK and parts of continental Europe.
Natural gas liquids (NGL) - engaged in the processing and marketing of ethane, propane, butanes and pentanes extracted from natural gas, for use in a range of applications, including chemicals and clean fuels.
New market development and liquefied natural gas (LNG) - developing opportunities to capture sales for upstream natural gas resources, with activities focused on US, Canada, Spain and many emerging markets in the Asia Pacific region, notably China.
Solar and renewables - spearheading the development, production and marketing of solar panels and the development of wind farms.
Other business segment activities include a number of gas-fired power generation projects, intended to add value, improve group power costs and reduce emissions.
Alternative Energy business
The portfolio of BP Alternative Energy covers a wide range of renewable and alternative energy technologies from large-scale commercial businesses in solar and wind power to exciting new areas, such as carbon capture and advanced biofuels. BP Alternative Energy already has substantial businesses in solar photovoltaic, wind and gas-fired power and is developing projects in advanced biofuels and carbon capture and storage as well as new areas such as concentrated solar thermal power. BP Biofuels is blending and distributing bio-components, such as ethanol and biodiesel, and investing in research to explore advanced biofuels that will emit less carbon and use non-food crops.
Back to company overview page
On 20 April 2010, an explosion at the BP-operated rig Deepwater Horizon off the coast of Louisiana, US killed 11 people and ruptured an undersea oil well. On the back of this, BP reported a $16.97bn replacement cost loss for the second quarter of 2010, which included a charge of $32.2bn related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. ICIS also provides you with key financial data listed in table form.
More about BP Strategy & Financial Highlights
Get news on BP plus the latest chemical news, information, data, market movements and analysis
in one place with ICIS news
Find details on other chemical companies and suppliers with
ICIS offers a range of FREE e-newsletters to ensure that you don't miss out on the latest development and key market intelligence in your industry. If you want the latest news sent to your inbox, sign up for ICIS e-newsletters today.
Find out more about current and planned chemical plants and projects by subscribing to our comprehensive database
INSIGHT: Europe final PE planned closure takes place in short market
'All PE closures add up to close to a million tonnes of capacity, and with HDPE growing at an estimated 2.5% per year, they have left Europe undersupp
VIDEO: ICIS special report - Turkish PVC market