How BP contributes to Britain’s economy

Last edited: 15 September 2015

A new report sets out BP's contribution to the UK economy. Explore the headline numbers and find out what the business's presence means for jobs, suppliers, the community and more

What comes to mind when you see or hear the name ‘BP’ in Britain? For the majority of the British public – motorists or not – it’s likely to be related to petrol pumps: perhaps it’s the bright green and yellow pole-sign at the roadside or the retail store on the forecourt where customers pick up the daily newspaper or some groceries.

BP’s 1,200+ retail stations throughout the UK may be the most recognizable face of the business, but a new report reveals the full extent of the company’s presence in the country – and its contribution to the national economy.

From offshore operations in the North Sea to support for education initiatives through its 45-year-old Schools Link programme, the BP business touches many different industries, sectors and aspects of life in the UK, which has been home to the company for more than 100 years.

National contribution

BP contributed an estimated £8.4 billion to Europe’s second largest economy last year; that equates to 0.5% of Britain’s gross domestic product. This figure not only includes the company’s direct operations – such as its production and transportation of oil and gas – but also its spending on goods and services from other UK businesses.

In fact, BP spent £7.7 billion with nearly 3,200 suppliers in its home country in 2014. On top of that, BP’s international businesses also spent £1.2 billion with British-registered companies operating abroad.

But, what do these large numbers mean in reality? To put them in perspective, BP generated more value for the UK economy than the country’s software industry, or its pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, or the combined contribution of the shipbuilding and cement industries.

On the job

BP directly employed more than 18,800 people in the UK in 2014, but the business’s impact goes far beyond those on its own payroll. In fact, it’s calculated that more than 132,000 jobs in the country are linked to or supported by BP’s activities – that equates to one in every 244 jobs.

Scotland benefits from the greatest employment impact, with BP supporting 2% of all jobs there. Other regions where the business’s impact is also considerable include the South East and London.

The report also looks at the so-called ‘induced’ impacts that BP makes in the UK: around £1.5 billion was paid to staff in wages in 2014 and a portion of employees’ disposable income will then have been spent at local leisure and retail outlets. According to Oxford Economics, authors of the report, this expenditure would itself have supported an estimated 16,800 jobs.

Beyond business

The nature of BP’s work in the energy industry demands the latest technology and innovation to produce oil and gas from some of the world’s most remote and challenging environments.

Globally, the BP Group reported $663 million spent last year on research and development with some of the world’s leading academic institutions.  Around 40% of this sum was spent in Britain, through investments in partnerships, for example, with Imperial College London, the University of Manchester and the University of Cambridge.

To invest in the engineers and technologists of the future, BP also supports education in “STEM” – science, technology, engineering and maths – subjects through funding for research and course content development. As an example, King’s College London and the Science Museum, supported by BP, have teamed up in a five-year research project to help make students, their families and teachers more aware of the many factors that influence a child’s inclination towards science subjects.

BP’s total community investment – which amounted to £8.51 million in 2014 – includes support for arts and culture through BP’s long-standing partnerships with museums and theatre companies. BP also supports staff who wish to contribute their time, skills or money to charities or social enterprises, by matching their donations.

Two BP suppliers explain the impact working with BP has on their business….

Retail revolution spurs rapid growth: Roger Bell, Managing Director, Branch Construction

“I think BP has got the best quality forecourt retail offer out there in the shape of the BP-M&S Partnership and, as a client, BP has always promoted a trusting, partnership approach with us.

We first provided our shopfitting and forecourt development services to BP twelve years ago, as a subcontractor. That was just a small contract to fit two counters, but we demonstrated that we could deliver a professional service quickly and cost-effectively. Since then, BP has entrusted us with principal contractor projects and increasingly large contracts. This year we’re working on around 30 upgrades and 10 new builds.

The volume and consistency of workload has allowed us to grow, both in terms of taking on new staff, and in developing our business capabilities.  BP has very high standards for Health and Safety, for example.  Improving our standards to meet the requirements of BP has stood us in good stead when we work with other clients.”

Collaborative relationship launches global expansion: Simon Rio, Chief Executive, PD&MS Group

“BP’s North Sea team first called upon our services—principally upgrades and modifications to drilling facilities—four years ago and we’ve grown with BP ever since, delivering increasingly complex projects and expanding across the globe.

Before 2011, all of our work was UK-based. But after proving our ability to deliver safely and cost-effectively, our BP contracts opened up international opportunities, first in Norway and more recently in Azerbaijan.

The Caspian is a very different, sometimes challenging place to work. But BP’s collaborative approach and support has provided a platform for success and helped us as we set up and expanded in the region.

BP certainly has high standards. But sharing common goals and knowing that we have this genuinely collaborative relationship has given us the confidence to fulfill our international growth aspirations.”

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