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We are creating real value and tangible growth – with opportunities out to 2021 and beyond

Business model

The Upstream segment is responsible for our activities in oil and natural gas exploration, field development and production. We do this through five global technical and operating functions.


Wells and projects

Global operations

Global wells
Global operations

The exploration function is responsible for renewing our resource base through access, exploration and appraisal, while the reservoir development function is responsible for the stewardship of our resource portfolio over the life of each field.

The global wells organization and the global projects organization are responsible for the safe, reliable and compliant execution of wells (drilling and completions) and major projects.

The global operations organization is responsible for safe, reliable and compliant operations, including upstream production assets and midstream transportation and processing activities.


2018 has been a good year for Upstream, where we increased confidence in 2021 delivery and underpinned our ability to continue growth well into the next decade.
Bernard Looney chief executive, Upstream


 Bernard Looney Chief executive, Upstream


Our strategy has three parts and is enabled by:


Quality execution


We want to be the best at what we do – everywhere we work. This starts with executing our activity safely. In every basin, we will benchmark against the competition and aim to be the best – whether it be operating facilities reliably and cost effectively, with a focus on emissions, drilling wells, managing our reservoirs, exploring, building projects, or deploying technology. Through the quality of our execution, scale and infrastructure, we aim to be competitive in every basin, and as a business, get more from a unit of capital than our peers.


Growing advantaged oil and gas


We will manage our portfolio through disciplined investment in the world’s best oil and gas basins. We plan to grow both oil and gas production. Natural gas is a big lever for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This means taking a leadership role in tackling the challenge of methane. Our gas portfolio will be complemented by advantaged oil assets – oil we can produce at a lower cost or higher margin, creating a portfolio that is flexible for different price environments.

63,000 square kilometres new exploration access
new exploration access
95.7% BP-operated upstream plant reliability
BP-operated upstream plant reliability
Seven successful completion of turnarounds
successful completion of turnarounds

Returns-led growth


We want to grow – but not at any cost. We always look to grow returns and value. We believe this growth will come from many sources – production growth, expanding and managing our margins, operational efficiency, unit cost reduction, and capital efficiency with disciplined levels of capital reinvestment.


Across the business 


In addition to our core Upstream exploration, development and production activities, the segment is responsible for midstream transportation, storage and processing. We also market and trade natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), power and natural gas liquids (NGL). In 2018 our activities took place in 33 countries.


The US Lower 48 business continues to operate as a separate, asset-focused, onshore business, and changed its name to BPX Energy in October.


With the exception of BPX Energy, we deliver our exploration, development and production activities through five global technical and operating functions.


We optimize and integrate the delivery of our activities across 12 regions, with support provided by global functions in specialist areas of expertise: technology, finance, procurement and supply chain, human resources, information technology and legal. In 2016 we identified a future growth target of 900,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day of production from new major projects by 2021 and we remain on track to deliver that. We expect this production to deliver 35% higher operating cash margins on average than our 2015 upstream assets, which supports our value over volume strategy.


We see our scale and long history in many of the great basins in the world as a differentiator for BP and believe in the strength of our incumbent positions. We believe we are balanced and flexible – in terms of geography, hydrocarbon type and geology – and rather than being restricted by a traditional way of working, we have and will continue to use creative business models to generate value.