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Bernard Looney

Bernard Looney - chief executive, Upstream

Chief executive, Upstream

Executive team tenure: 

Appointed 1 November 2010

On 4 October 2019 the Board announced that Bernard Looney will succeed Bob Dudley as group chief executive and join the BP Board on 5 February 2020


Outside interests:

Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering

Fellow of the Energy Institute








Bernard Looney has run BP’s Upstream business since April 2016 and has been a member of the company’s executive management team since November 2010.

As chief executive, Upstream, Bernard is responsible for all BP’s oil and gas exploration, development and production activities worldwide. The Upstream segment includes some 17,000 people operating across almost 30 countries and produces around 2.6 million barrels equivalent of oil and gas a day.

During his tenure, process and personal safety performance has improved by 35% and 20% respectively and production has grown by 20%, driven largely by 23 major project start-ups – delivered ahead of schedule and under budget.

He has led access into new countries, including Mauritania and Senegal, high-graded the portfolio with the acquisition of onshore US assets from BHP Billiton and the proposed sale of the Alaska business, and created innovative new business models such as Aker BP in Norway.

Bernard has encouraged BP to lead the industry on methane detection methods as well as driving sustainable emissions reductions of almost 3 million tonnes CO2 equivalent in the past two years.

Under his leadership, Bernard has made significant improvements in both gender and global diversity, with his top regional leadership team now being one-third women and one-third from outside the US/UK. He has also initiated a company-wide dialogue on mental health in hope of ‘ending the stigma’ associated with the issue. 

In earlier Upstream executive roles, he was responsible for all BP-operated oil and gas production worldwide and for all BP’s drilling and major project activity. He led the creation of central drilling and projects functions following the Deepwater Horizon accident. 

Bernard joined BP in 1991 as a drilling engineer and worked in operational roles in the North Sea, Vietnam and the Gulf of Mexico, including as drilling engineer on the discovery of the giant Thunder Horse field.  After a period in BP Alaska, he became head of the group chief executive's office, working directly for BP chief executives Lord Browne and then Tony Hayward.

An Irish citizen, Bernard grew up in County Kerry and in 1991 gained a degree in Electrical Engineering from University College Dublin. He later, in 2005, gained a MS in Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Bernard is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the Energy Institute and is also a mentor in the FTSE 100 Cross-Company Mentoring Executive Programme.

Career history:

2016-present: chief executive, Upstream


2013-2016: chief operating officer, production


2010-2013: executive vice president, developments & member of BP executive team


2009-2010: managing director, BP North Sea


2008-2009: vice president, Norway and North Sea infrastructure


2006-2008: head of group chief executive office


2005-2006: senior vice president, BP Alaska


2004-2005: Stanford Graduate Business School


2002-2004: executive assistant to Group vice president exploration & renewal


1991-2002: production and drilling engineering roles in North Sea, Vietnam and deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

Read Bernard Looney's recent speeches

  • 17 September 2019 Open for the future
    In a speech at the SIS Schlumberger Global Forum, Monaco, Bernard Looney, chief executive, Upstream, outlines how successful energy companies of the future will be the ones that address societies concerns, find new ways to collaborate, and harness the benefits of digital and new technologies.
  • 2 September 2019 Oil and gas: changing for the future
    Bernard Looney, Upstream chief executive, at the Offshore Europe Gala Dinner in Aberdeen, 2 September 2019: Discusses the vital role of the North Sea oil and gas sector in helping to meet society’s need for cleaner, better energy. Looney talks about how the industry’s track record of innovation is the platform for a future that will see: continued modernization and more efficiency, further emissions reductions and a changing role of oil and gas in tomorrow’s energy system.
  • 25 September 2018 New energy opportunities in Africa
    Bernard Looney, chief executive, Upstream, Atlantic Council, New York, 25 September 2018: With demand for energy in Africa well ahead of the world average, and BP’s long history on the continent, Bernard Looney speaks about the in Africa’s prospects for growth and investment.