BP Vice President for communications, external affairs, strategy in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey region Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli has responded to Azertac agency’s questions on the planned changes in BP and company’s current activities in Azerbaijan.
Question: There have been quite a lot of reports about significant job losses BP has recently announced. Although it is not difficult to guess why this is happening it would be good to hear firsthand information from you.
Answer: Some three weeks ago, on 8 June, BP group announced what steps we would need to take to reinvent the company globally. The decision to reinvent the company is a very serious one, and is part of our plans which we laid out in February. We announced at the time that we needed to change to meet the dual challenge facing us – on the one hand to help meet the world’s growing energy demand and, on the other, help the world transition to cleaner and safer energy that our planet needs.
And then, there came the pandemic resulting in unpredictable and unprecedented economic conditions and all this has reaffirmed our determination to change – and accelerated the need to do so.
In other words, BP’s decisions are driven by the combination of two factors:
– Reinventing BP: we announced our plans in February and are already underway in delivering. We have consistently been clear that this will create a more focused and integrated organization, one that is flatter, leaner – and smaller.
We remain certain that this is what is needed to ensure BP is competitive as we successfully deliver our net zero ambition.
– The current economic environment: The pandemic and resulting economic conditions have reaffirmed our determination to change – and accelerated the need to do so.
Q.: What exactly do you mean by reinventing BP?
A.: This, in fact, involves a number of actions that will transform the company to become a more focused and integrated organization, flatter and leaner. This is the right thing for bp and all our stakeholders – including our people. We have been clear that this will result in a smaller BP. We are looking to reinvent BP, to do things in different ways, faster and nimbler, with a flatter delayered organization, more focused and integrated without silos and without unnecessary duplication. These are the things we need to do to successfully deliver our net zero ambition.
The steps to do this will reduce our size and lower our costs. The hostile external market conditions have accelerated and added more emphasis to the need to do this and to do this fast. We have told our people globally that we expect the actions being taken will result in significant job losses. We currently expect this to result in close to 10,000 job losses from our global workforce of about 70,000 – about 14% reduction in overall global workforce.
Q.: What does this mean for Azerbaijan?
A.: The announcement of these decisions is the start of a process. The details of specific impacts – on business areas, locations, regions and countries – will come over some time. So, in Azerbaijan, we will have to look at these details and discuss them. At a time of great uncertainty, we will give our people information as soon as it becomes clear. At this stage, however, what is clear is that we will work to ensure that the changes are agreed with the government.
Q.: Don’t you think that these decisions and other actions you plan to take to deliver your net zero ambition will lead to a reduction of your business in Azerbaijan?
A.: Absolutely not!
Let me start by saying that despite the impacts of the challenging economic environment, BP continues and will continue its activities in all the projects it operates in Azerbaijan. As Azerbaijan’s long-term and reliable partner, we attach great importance to these projects.
We remain committed to Azerbaijan and have great plans for the future. We will continue to invest in this country and intend to expand our business in the decades to come. For at least the next 30 years, we will be together with Azerbaijan and support the efforts of the country, its government and the region to build a low-carbon energy future.
Q.: What is the company doing now and what are your plans?
A.: Let me first talk about how we have been working and operating our sites under these difficult conditions caused by the pandemic.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank our people at all of our sites both offshore and onshore who are demonstrating a great sense of responsibility and commitment, working day and night and longer hours, away from their families, and having to spend 7-14 days in quarantine before entering the site, and at the site working and living in strict compliance with the health, safety and social distancing rules. And all this is for one sole purpose that oil and gas production and exports run uninterrupted every single day.
The challenges do not end there.
On behalf of the company, let me also express our huge thanks to the country’s leadership, the Operational Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers, all government agencies, embassies and other organizations for giving us prompt and timely support in countless situations we would never have coped with on our own in such difficult times as these when the borders are closed. We have needed support for the entry and exit of some of our expatriate staff and contractors involved in critical operations, for the organization of charter flights for them, permits and visas, the allocation of special locations for quarantine after their entry into the country, the delivery of critical equipment and materials. Without their support and close assistance, we would never have been able to continue our production and export operations uninterruptedly and efficiently under these unprecedented circumstances. We all know perfectly well what uninterrupted production and export of oil and gas mean for the country and the region in such difficult times.
In conclusion, I would like to briefly talk about other important activities we are currently undertaking in addition to production and exports, and some of our plans for the near future.
• We continue to drill our first exploration well on the Shafag-Asiman block and intend to complete it by the end of this year;
• We will start drilling the first exploration well in shallow water Absheron as soon as the upgrade of the drilling rig is completed. We hope that this will also be possible by the end of this year.
• We completed the planned 3D seismic survey programme on D230 earlier this year, and now we intend to accelerate the processing and interpretation of the acquired data using our supercomputer in Houston.
• We continue the construction of ACE (Azeri Central East) – the new platform for Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli. Despite the impacts of the pandemic on the construction activities, our plans for the first ACE oil in 2023 remain unchanged.