Release date: 10 November 2016
Master, Deputy Master, Wardens, Lady Mayoress, Liverymen, ladies and gentlemen – good afternoon.
A big thank you Master for your warm hospitality.
I’m delighted to be here today for what is always a great occasion.
As a proud Freeman of the Tallow Chandlers Company, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate today’s award winners.
We are delighted to celebrate your day with you, your families, friends and colleagues. I understand what a very special day this is for all of you.
You are remarkable individuals and part of a great BP team.
And like with any successful team, to stay at the top takes investment in new talent.
That’s why the Tallow Chandlers awards mean so much to BP.
Each year this occasion shows us that the world of energy is populated by dedicated young people with extraordinary talents.
This year is no different.
To all today’s winners – many congratulations on your success.
You’ll go far. You have already demonstrated you have the talent, the passion and the dedication.
Enjoy today, but know this:
As the technicians and engineers of today you have a responsibility to help supply the heat, light and mobility for people all over the world.
In achieving this aim you will encounter challenges.
Right now, BP, like the industry as a whole, faces three major challenges.
The first lies in the uncertainty of the environment.
This week we have seen a new President elect in the United States, and only recently this nation voted to leave the EU – or Brexit, as the new addition of the Oxford English Dictionary states.
In the energy business we are used to uncertainty. We have a long history in BP of adapting to change.
Two years ago I’d just delivered our results for a quarter when the oil price averaged $102 a barrel.
Last week, for the equivalent quarter, it was $46 a barrel.
Our revenue stream has been cut in half. That’s a major shock for any sector to absorb.
This morning its $46.50 and we anticipate it remaining around $50 – 55 throughout 2017.
We looked at the financial frame, reset the business, and we are on track to balance the books for these prices by next year.
We are focused on the future and we have growth on the way.
By the end of this year we’ll have started up 5 new projects and we have 9 start-ups next year – more than any year previously.
Two of those are revitalising production in the North Sea.
This includes the Glen Lyon vessel…
Picture a ship longer than the Houses of Parliament and nearly as wide.
These projects will give us half-a-million barrels a day of new capacity by the end of 2017.
So we’re working really hard and positioning ourselves to be highly competitive in any environment.
The second challenge is carbon and the transition to a lower carbon economy.
BP welcomed the Paris Agreement’s aims to reduce carbon emissions.
It sets a clearer direction of travel for everyone – governments, consumers, investors and businesses.
For BP it helps gives us pointers to make the commercial decisions that can take us in a viable, long-term, carbon-lowering direction.
In a Stanford speech in 1997 our former CEO John Brown spoke about the impacts of climate change.
And today renewables are the fastest growing fuel – and we have commercially viable businesses in wind and biofuels.
What’s more we are growing them.
But, the world is going to need oil and gas for a long time yet to meet growing global energy demand.
Gas particularly is a good choice for its lower carbon advantages – burning to produce power with about half the CO₂ emissions of coal.
That brings us to the third challenge – which is where our winners today will play a major part...
The choices ahead will be determined by the ability to find and create the technological solutions to the latest challenges.
400 years ago, tallow candles gave way to the performance-enhancing qualities of whale oil then paraffin wax.
But the Tallow Chandlers adapted and became successful in the soap business.
The energy industry is adapting today – finding new solutions, new and better technologies.
It’s what we do - and today’s technologists and apprentices are going to be really important.
There is a real competitive advantage to be gained through advanced technology. It’s an area that has always been a real strength for BP.
As we enter this next phase we look to Rachel Fort – and to all today’s award winners and their colleagues – to be the ones to find the solutions.
To utilize innovation and their relationships and networks in order to adapt to the challenges of the day.
Because with challenges comes great opportunities.
Globalisation has brought new innovations and technologies that I and my fellow apprentices could only dream about in 1990.
So I believe there has never been a more exciting time to join the sector.
So again congratulations to you, and your families and friends with you today.