BP's operations span the entire length and breadth of the UK
In Scotland, our UK Upstream business accounts for around 5% of BP's global production. Assets include 45 production fields, 33 platforms and 10 pipeline systems, plus an estimated 3 billion barrels of oil equivalent reserve potential in our North Sea portfolio. Near Hull, we have a long-established petrochemicals plant. It is one of the region's largest employers, making acetic acid and other products that are used for plastic drink bottles, clothing, foods, paints, inks, medicines, plastics, adhesives, and other everyday items. BP Fuels Value Chain and convenience retail business is based in Milton Keynes. BP is operating a network of over 1200 service stations as they provide fuel and everyday products for Britain's motorists and shoppers. Our global technology hub for fuels and lubricants is located at Pangbourne, Berkshire. Here, hundreds of highly skilled chemists, engineers and other specialists pursue continuous improvements in product performance from development and testing right through to the formulation of products. Pangbourne houses fuels, lubricants and even upstream scientists working in a unique environtment to drive innovation. Finally, the International Centre for Business and Technology at Sunbury-on-Thames is as complex and diverse as BP itself. With every facet of our business represented in one of our largest global office, the centre houses upstream technical and business teams, downstream marketing and commercial teams, operations supporting the tanker fleet of BP Shipping and the corporate function teams.
In discovering the first commercial gas and oil fields in the North Sea, BP helped establish a vital industry that has provided thousands of jobs and billions of pounds to the UK Exchequer. In fact, we've recently announced £10 billion of new North Sea investment with partners, securing thousands more UK supply chain jobs and extending production for many years to come. BP currently employs over 15,000 people in the UK, working on oil and gas production, providing fuels, lubricants and the expertise to support a global company. What's more, we're also increasing graduate recruits by 50% in 2012, hiring 250 in the UK alone. Over the last five years BP has paid over £6 billion in UK taxes and passed on almost £20 billion in duties and fuel VAT. In 2011, we distributed around £3.3 billion in dividends to our shareholders, including many major pension funds.
BP is committed to driving British technological excellence. We lead the field in a series of specialist energy technologies, these include seismic imaging, and enhanced oil recovery, in the upstream and more fuel efficiency in the downstream. We spend over 40% of our total research and development budget – some £175m a year – in the UK, channelled through our three major technology centres in Sunbury, Pangbourne and Hull. Britain is home to some of the world’s leading academic institutions and we are proud to work with over 30 British universities on leading-edge research. In 2012 we committed more than £60m to research the new materials needed by the energy industry of the future, founding the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials with Manchester University, the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. Our long history of developing technology in the UK, for deployment across the world, is a fundamental part of who we are and gives us a strong platform to help meet future energy demand.