The Arctic

We operate nine onshore fields in Alaska. Our offshore interests in the Arctic are currently limited to areas for exploration

The Arctic offers opportunities to help meet the world’s growing energy needs, but there are also specific challenges due to its unique nature. These challenges range from environmental, social and political, to operational, technological and commercial.

Our working interests

BP has operated in the US Arctic for several decades, opening our first office in Alaska in 1959. We operate nine onshore fields on Alaska’s North Slope.

In the offshore Arctic, BP has a largely non-operated position. We have investments in areas including the Barents Sea, Greenland and the Canadian Beaufort. We continue to assess opportunities, proceeding only where we believe it makes commercial sense and we understand and can manage associated risks and impacts.

We have decided with our partner and operator, Imperial Oil, to defer the proposed Beaufort Sea exploration drilling programme. The joint venture, in which we hold a 50% non-operating position, will continue to maintain a presence in the Beaufort, conducting a multi-year programme to collect critical ice data and continuing to work with local communities to define business, employment and training opportunities.


We hold a 19.75% share in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, and remain committed to our strategic investment while complying with all relevant sanctions. BP does not currently have operations in the offshore Russian Arctic or directly partner with Rosneft on any of its offshore Arctic licences.

Working safely

Our operations in Alaska have government-approved land, air and water use permits and oil spill response plans that consider the sensitivity of the Arctic. We share our knowledge and experience in the Arctic with our partners to help deliver safe and responsible operations in this sensitive environment. For example, we are working with new North Slope operators to share our experience in pipeline inspection and management.

We are also working with others in the oil and gas industry to develop consistent operating standards for the Arctic that address areas such as the working environment, environmental monitoring, ice management and Arctic offshore structures. We worked with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to develop an international code of safety for ships operating in polar waters and we are also contributing to the development of IMO safety guidance on operational limitations in ice.

Understanding the Arctic environment

We have been studying the environment on Alaska’s North Slope since before start-up of the Prudhoe Bay oil field in 1977. We continue to support research to further understand polar bear behaviour. And, we support long-term monitoring of nesting birds on the tundra to gain a better understanding of potential impacts from industry, climate change and predators.

Working with local communities

Arctic communities depend on the natural environment for their livelihoods and cultural heritage. We acknowledge the importance of respecting their unique cultures and ways of life. We also recognize that local knowledge and experience can enhance our operating approach. For example, through our work with the North Slope community, we use a technique for grass replacement, where appropriate, that allows for quicker revegetation of disturbed tundra.


The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2015 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.

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