OTC: BP America optimistic about America’s energy renaissance, Mingé says

This article was corrected and modified on May 5.

The top executive of BP America Inc. remains optimistic about the continuing energy renaissance taking place in the US.

“It’s a great time to be in American energy,” said BP America Chairman and Pres. John Mingé at a breakfast session May 5, which kicked off the annual 4-day Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

Mingé said the recent energy renaissance has been “amazing” to witness, also noting, “We didn’t have booms when I started [in the oil business]. We just had busts, busts, busts, busts, busts.”

With a background in drilling engineering, Mingé has been in his current position for a year and considers the company “a team of explorers.”

He said with demand for energy increasing, and with the US on its way to becoming an energy exporter, the search for new resources remains “hugely challenging.”

“Energy is essential, and the need is not going away,” he said, while acknowledging: “Every industry has its critics, and we have ours.”

As for misgivings about whether the world has enough oil to provide that energy, those doubts “are fading fast.”

He added, “That’s not to knock alternatives.” All forms of energy need to be a part of the mix, he said.

Post-Macondo

Mingé acknowledged that BP is a different company from when he started. And a large part of that change came after the Macondo deepwater blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico 4 years ago. It was, he said, “An event that has forced us to take a close look at who we are.”

After all, the “hallmark of an explorer,” Mingé said, is to persevere in times of setbacks.

BP has gone through a series of divestments as well, many in the US, and most recently in Alaska. It has also recently sold its solar business. The company is renewing its focus on light oil and LNG.

BP has recently handled $38 billion in divestments and intends to offload another $10 billion between now and 2015, he said.

As for investments, he said, “Offshore is a huge piece of that." BP operates 11 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico—more than they ever have before. And the company was the apparent high bidder on 24 of the 31 tracts that it bid on in the most recent gulf lease sale (OGJ Online, Mar. 19, 2014).

Q&A

After his prepared speech, Mingé fielded questions from OTC’s delegates. The first dealt with transportation safety of oil: rail vs. pipeline. He said transportation of crude by pipeline is the “preferred method” because of its proven safety and reliability, but added that rail also can be done safely. He cited that recent accidents involving rail transportation of oil have been “tragic,” and said he will soon be part of a panel to discuss improvements to this method along with the American Petroleum Institute.

When asked about the strife in Russia, Mingé noted that BP has been in business in that country for many, many years in both oil and gas, and that although at times things have been “not so smooth,” in the end projects can be successful. He added, however, that BP intends to comply with any sanctions placed on that country.

Mingé remains bullish about the deepwater gulf, saying, “The Gulf of Mexico is still one of the most prolific basins in the world,” and that large projects will continue to demand a large share of the company’s investment.

When questioned about the state of the infrastructure in the US, and whether systems are up to the job of transporting expanding production, Mingé said, “Just because pipes are old doesn’t mean they’re bad. I know pipes that are 40 years old that are like new.”

One final question about the developing opportunities in Mexico was answered with excitement: “We’re ready to go if you’re ready to have us,” Mingé said.

Contact Steven Poruban at stevenp@ogjonline.com.

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