BPTT to chase deepwater pursuits off Trinidad and Tobago

The Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico will not stop BP PLC from pursuing deepwater opportunities off Trinidad and Tobago, according to BP Trinidad & Tobago’s Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Riley.

Nov 5th, 2010

Curtis Williams
OGJ Correspondent

PORT OF SPAIN, Nov. 5 -- The Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico will not stop BP PLC from pursuing deepwater opportunities off Trinidad and Tobago, according to BP Trinidad & Tobago’s Chairman and Chief Executive Robert Riley.

Riley told OGJ while no decision has been made on whether BPTT will bid on the deepwater blocks being offered by the twin-island nation’s government, his company was looking closely at the auction. Riley also noted BPTT is not looking for partners but rather go it alone.

“I believe the company has appetite for taking on the deep water,” Riley said. “We have shown it now in Azerbaijan, we are showing it in China, we are showing it now in India, we have shown it in the North Sea and did it alone. There is nothing that has been signaled to me that if we have the right scale of opportunity that we will not pursue it alone.”

He said BPTT worked with successive Trinidad and Tobago governments to have a more competitive licensing approach. Riley said the government responded to give BP an optimistic view of the competitiveness of bidding here.

“We are now in the middle of the technical work, which shows a lot of promise. I am very optimistic we will play a part in the bid round and hopefully will actually secure a place,” Riley told OGJ.

Speaking at BPTT’s headquarters days before being appointed to lead BP’s global safety unit, Riley said there were major lessons that BP had learned from the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible accident, which he described as a “near-death” experience for the company.

Riley said there will have to be cultural change at the company to consider the “unthinkable risk and plan for it”—the risk that is considered a low probability but can have a high impact.

“The only thing that could shape an activity change is not income or money but actually whether that activity is a manageable risk for the business. BP does not want to be averse to taking risk, but we also want to be careful every time we take risk we understand exactly what we are in and we can manage it well.” Riley said.

Trinidad and Tobago is offering 11 deepwater blocks for bid. However, the blocks are in water depths never before explored in Trinidad and Tobago.

Riley said not withstanding Macondo, BP is the best explorer in the world and added it also has more than 4 decades of exploration experience in Trinidad and Tobago. Not to have the company as part of the deepwater round would be a “travesty,” he said.

“We have the most successful exploration track record in the industry and therefore to open up a new province and not have BP…would be, I think a major omission.” Riley argued.

He said BP is looking at specific projects to decide what to go after. BPTT is the largest producer of hydrocarbons in Trinidad and Tobago producing some 460,000 boe/d.

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