When it comes to developing new products at BP, consideration of carbon emissions is on an equal level with economic returns. As Steve knows well in his work in our concept development team
Steve’s background in engineering and computer science meant that he was always going to go into some kind of technical role. But, as he says, his interests went further than that.
“I've always been interested in the bigger picture – how the project fits into the economic and financial side of the business. That's why a technical career at BP is great. My scope is so broad. I can switch from discussing deep technical detail, to talking about the economic impact of a project with Government stakeholders in the same meeting.”
It was just after his work on a major project, installing a gas pipeline 2,000 metres under the sea in Angola, that an engineering manager suggested that he might suit BP’s Global Concept Development team. The team looks at projects in their very earliest stages – just after a discovery has been made. As Steve explains, this suited his interest in the bigger picture.
We get involved in the integration and planning right from the start, making the fundamental decisions that really impact the value and efficiencies of projects. And because within the business, we now put carbon on an equal level to economic returns, we’re given massive flexibility and freedom to look at ways we can reduce carbon emissions. And if the move to using a lower carbon technology has other benefits around remote operations or safety, even better.
A great example of this is looking at different ways of powering offshore facilities – for instance, using an electric cable that runs back to shore and uses power generated from the national grid (or the equivalent in the country we’re operating in). As he points out: “Even though the cable may have a higher initial cost, it has lower associated carbon emissions, so there’s a longer-term benefit.”
He admits that this is one of the reasons why he enjoys his work so much. “It’s not just about what we do on which projects,” he says. “It's often about ‘how do we add value to the organisation and to society?’ There’s a strong sense of purpose.”
He believes this approach has given him the scope to use his technical skills in ways he may not have been able to use them elsewhere:
We’re given the authority and permission to challenge things. You’re encouraged to use your creativity to make processes better.
Of course, the scale of BP’s operations also means that he’s been able to contribute to a variety of different work. As he puts it:
“If you have digital skills like me, you're not just the ‘digital guy’ who develops apps all day. If you want to stay in a purely technical career path, that’s very highly valued at BP. But you can also work on major projects which are equally exciting in other ways. BP can give you that opportunity.”