1. Home
  2. News and insights
  3. Energy in focus magazine
  4. The people targeting a low carbon future

Low carbon pioneers

Release date:
10 April 2019
How do you meet the challenge of reducing emissions across BP? Ten BP people tell us how they’re targeting a low carbon future in every corner of the business − from big ideas like redesigning supertankers to small steps that cut workplace waste

Ignacio 'Nacho' Gimenez, interim managing director of BP Ventures, Europe

Chemical engineering to corporate finance, via the refinery and trading floors, isn’t the most obvious of BP career paths. But, for Nacho Gimenez, it’s exactly this diverse mix of technical and commercial skills that gives him an edge − one that’s vital as he seeks out technologies and innovations to help BP in the hunt for low carbon businesses. “I love being a venture capitalist,” he says. “The role allows me to draw on my technical and commercial skills and direct them towards something really big and critical to the whole world: accelerating the energy transition.”


As part of his current role, Gimenez sits on the board of Voltaware, a BP-backed start-up that has developed an internet-enabled energy-monitoring device that allows smartphone users to track and optimize their energy consumption at home. And, it makes a difference − confirmed accreditation this year under BP’s Advancing Low Carbon programme (ALC).


“With each new investment, we are trying to move a big organization like BP into a completely new space and reinvent it in a way that is much more sustainable. It’s an incredibly fascinating role,” he says. 

Innandya Irawan, commercial analyst, Tangguh, Indonesia

Like many millennials, Innandya Irawan is concerned by the scale of the environmental challenge and is determined to take positive action wherever she sees an opportunity. Her ambition was galvanized when attending last year’s One Young World Summit: “I used to think I should do something; since OYW, I think I have to.” 


Irawan resolved to reduce her own carbon footprint by 20%, even making her own cosmetics. She is now turning her attention to the workplace and, in particular, BP’s office spaces, where she is leading a project called Low Carbon Culture, with eight other OYW ambassadors, which aims to measure and reduce CO2 emissions in BP offices to inform best practices for a future group-wide site CO2 reduction plan. 


She has put this into practice in BP Jakarta by pushing for an office-wide policy that eliminates single-use plastics. “I want to help create a toolkit for office spaces and work with other BP experts to apply low carbon know-how to offices.”


Irawan hopes that an effective toolkit can be published widely so that more workplaces beyond BP can adopt energy-saving measures. “There are a lot of other companies that care about climate change, too. If we have good best practice, why don’t we share it?” she says.

Anya Hoff, development manager, Alternative Energy

What’s the next big thing in renewable energy? Anya Hoff is answering this question as she looks for the right investment opportunities to bring into BP’s growing AE business. In a fast-paced, ever-changing energy ecosystem, her role requires vision for what the world might look like in five, 10, 20 years’ time. One thing is certain: the huge potential of solar. 


That’s why Hoff didn’t hesitate in dedicating almost a year of her life to bringing back solar to BP’s AE business with the Lightsource BP deal signed on 14 December 2017. It’s a date she remembers well. In the morning, she was at home celebrating her son’s birthday. In the afternoon, she was there for the signing of the £200 million investment. For Hoff, all the hard work had paid off. “I have two children and I just want to do something I can be proud of and I think creating new low carbon businesses is one of those things.” 


This is the second time around in AE for Hoff, having been part of the business back in 2007. She jumped at the chance to return and apply the business negotiation skills she honed in bidding rounds for oil and gas exploration opportunities. 


And what’s next for renewables? “Solving the intermittency of renewables through storage or hybridization, the possibilities of offshore wind, and, I think, floating turbine technology is exciting.”

Carolyn Schmit, principal engineer, refining, technology and engineering

Carolyn Schmit has a vision: it’s a technical blueprint for how BP’s refineries will supply cleaner, greener fuel. Her work is helping BP to meet the targets it set itself, which stress the need to reduce emissions. “Energy efficiency options exist, but the targets really put an emphasis on it,” Schmit says. “I’ve translated my knowledge from energy efficiency into reduction opportunities for greenhouse gas emissions. I think it will be a shift for the energy industry as a whole.” 


Schmit looks at her work through what she terms ‘a carbon lens’. For her, that helps to identify the best options to reduce emissions and include them in the decision-making process. What really surprises her is the appetite within the organization for finding carbon reduction measures. “We’ve been able to engage a lot of people across the business in the last year, at a much faster pace than I would have expected. My hope is that we can bring new and existing technologies into our refineries in a way that allows us to advance the energy transition,” she says.

Peter Evans, environmental engineering lead, Upstream Technology

Peter Evans's mission is to equip BP with the latest emissions-detecting technology. And, as someone who has a PhD in why volcanoes erupt when they do, he’s certainly used to hot topics.


Thanks to his efforts, BP is testing a range of tools designed to detect and quantify methane emissions at its assets. From handheld devices to satellites in the sky, the technology will hopefully allow any changes in emissions to be quickly spotted and prioritized so that we can optimize our efforts to tackle emissions in the fastest, most efficient ways. 


But Evans is not stopping there: “We know that measuring something doesn’t fundamentally change it. We have to turn that data into changes in how we operate in order to build upon our sustainable emissions reductions. It’s what you do with the numbers, and we’re now getting to grips with them. It’s arguably the most exciting phase.” 

Gopal Hariharan, engineering manager, BP Shipping

Like in many other areas of transport, the shipping industry is looking to plot a course to a low carbon future. Navigating the way for BP is Gopal Hariharan, who can call on 14 years of seafaring experience – five as a chief engineer. BP’s emissions-reduction targets, along with new industry regulations, have made looking for low carbon solutions a priority for Gopal and his team. But, he says: “Regulations are not an innovation driver; they are a compliance driver. The energy transition is the real innovation driver for us.”


From high-tech wind sails to low-sulphur fuels, Hariharan’s team of engineers and naval architects are constantly looking out for new ideas to implement, either for vessels in service or on new builds. “Our main effort is focused on the new builds where there has been a great opportunity for us to influence the design,” Hariharan says. 


Gopal and his team’s efforts have led to two ALC accreditations already – one for their recent new fleet of efficient oil tankers and another for their new LNG ships. The latter feature a redesigned fuel gas supply and reliquefaction system, whereby excess burn-off gas that would have otherwise been burnt or vented is now cooled back into LNG again. 


And the future?  “I anticipate wind power will be more prominent in the future,” says Hariharan, “as well as more efficient voyages helped by digital technology that will make real-time decisions possible.” 

Ashleigh Ross, portfolio lead, carbon capture, use and storage

The chance discovery that her parents’ tiny rural hometown in North Dakota was once the site of a major US Government carbon capture project was enough to inspire Ashleigh Ross along a career path that she hopes could make a real difference. “All the predictions say that CCUS is absolutely critical to meeting the Paris climate goals. We may be able to reduce emissions without CCUS, but it’s going to be a whole lot harder and a whole lot more expensive,” Ross says.


After working on carbon capture projects for more than 15 years in academia and for another oil and gas major, she moved to BP 18 months ago wanting to do more to advance the energy transition. BP, says Ross, has the interest, drive, enthusiasm and, crucially, resources to make it happen. 


As part of her current role, she helped to secure an ALC accreditation for BP’s sponsorship of the University of Texas Gulf Coast Carbon Center, which is working to further understand practical and cost-effective ways to plan, operate, monitor and close carbon capture, use and storage projects.


She sees similarities between her work and the early pioneers of the oil and gas industry. “The pioneering part of CCUS is making smart choices about which sources and sinks we go after and how we build a business model around that. I want BP to be an absolute stand-out leader in this space,” she says.

Lucas van’t Hoog, feedstock negotiator and logistics specialist at Cherry Point refinery, US

US drivers now have access to cleaner fuel thanks to the work of Lucas van’t Hoog and others at BP’s Cherry Point refinery in Washington state. In less than 12 months, the team was able to modify an existing unit to make renewable fuel. This unit can co-process biomass-based feedstock alongside conventional feedstocks to produce ultra-low-sulphur diesel. 


“This project is helping BP Fuels North America learn how to incorporate low carbon fuels into existing refinery production,” van’t Hoog says. “We’ve already reduced the carbon footprint of the refinery’s diesel fuel today, but there is longer-term potential for greater investments in the biomass fuel production of tomorrow.” 


The project involves taking tallow – a substance made from rendered animal fat – and running it through a refinery process which converts it into diesel. Cherry Point is now making about 122,000 gallons a day and is the only Pacific Northwest refinery capable of this production. 


As project sponsor, van’t Hoog was responsible for the unit’s implementation, right from business case development to executing commercial activities. “I am proud to be part of a team that is making a difference and, what’s more, we’ve just been awarded our first ALC accreditation as a result of this work,” he says.

Karen RagoonananJalim, Upstream carbon manager
Karen RagoonananJalim joined BP in 2006, impressed by its strong stance on environmental issues: “BP is widely recognized to be one of the first energy companies to address the threat of climate change,.” she says. “Environmental management has always been my field of interest. So, I knew it was the right place for me.”

Since then, she has helped BP operations to manage the environmental impact of its work; most recently, helping to set the Upstream strategy for carbon management, specifically around methane emissions.  

And, with the launch of a new $100 million Upstream Carbon Fund, RagoonananJalim sees great potential for even more emissions-reducing innovations. “Everyone wants to be part of the solution,” she says. “We are going to have to make some different choices, and potentially some uncomfortable and unpopular choices, but it’s essential that we do what’s right for the business, for the countries in which we operate, and, contribute to society’s efforts to meet the Paris goals.”

Russell Smith, vice president of global concept development

As well as helping to develop inherently safe and highly effective major projects for BP's Upstream, Russell Smith looks at how they can be made more environmentally friendly by design, producing oil and gas that’s cleaner and better than ever before. That means thinking differently to simplify, standardize and eliminate waste in project designs.


Remote operations, centralized power, solar and wind integration are all concepts that can cut the carbon footprint of oil and gas development projects. Buoyed by the challenge, Smith says: “It’s an inspiring space to work in. We are all human and want to do the best for the planet.” 


There is a business case, too. “We’ve been finding fundamentally lower emissions concepts and value propositions that are also more profitable. There's a drive to be less wasteful and more efficient in terms of what we need on our facilities to produce the hydrocarbons that generate the value for the organization,” he says.

Advancing low carbon

Advancing Low Carbon accreditation

BP’s Advancing Low Carbon accreditation programme was launched in April 2018 to help encourage lower carbon actions across the organization. To be accredited, activities must deliver what we call a ‘better carbon outcome’, meet our rigorous criteria and be externally assured. 


One year on, the programme has grown by more than 50%, with 52 accredited activities across BP – from advanced fuels and lubricants to lower carbon products, global research initiatives to partnerships with start-ups developing innovative new technologies. 


Many of BP’s low carbon pioneers have played an important role in these Advancing Low Carbon activities, while others are working in areas we hope to see within the programme in the future.

Subscribe to our email for the latest stories in energy, technology and engineering, direct to your inbox...