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BP plc (Formerly British Petroleum plc) is the third largest global energy company and the 4th largest company in the world. As a multinational oil company ("oil major") BP is the UK's largest corporation, with its headquarters in St James'smarker, City of Westminstermarker, Londonmarker. The company is among the largest private sector energy corporations in the world, and one of the six "supermajors" (vertically integrated private sector oil exploration, natural gas, and petroleum product marketing companies). The Company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


Activity in 1909–1979

In May 1901, William Knox D'Arcy was granted a concession by the Shah of Iran to search for oil which he discovered in May 1908. This was the first commercially significant find in the Middle East. On 14 April 1909, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) was incorporated to exploit this.In 1923, the company secretly gave £5,000 -- the equivalent of perhaps millions in today's money -- to future Prime Minister Winston Churchill to lobby the British government to allow them to monopolise Persian oil resources. In 1935, it became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC).

After World War II, AIOC and the Iranian government initially resisted nationalist pressure to revise AIOC's concession terms still further in Iranmarker's favour. But in March 1951, the pro-western Prime Minister Ali Razmara was assassinated. The Majlis of Iran (parliament) elected a nationalist, Mohammed Mossadeq, as prime minister. In April, the Majlis nationalized the oil industry by unanimous vote. The National Iranian Oil Company was formed as a result, displacing the AIOC. The AIOC withdrew its management from Iran, and organized an effective boycott of Iranian oil. The British government - which owned the AIOC - contested the nationalization at the International Court of Justicemarker at The Haguemarker, but its complaint was dismissed.

By spring of 1953, incoming U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to organize a coup against the Mossadeq government. On 19 August 1953, Mossadeq was forced from office by the CIA conspiracy, involving the Shah and the Iranian military, and known by its codename, Operation Ajax.

Mossadeq was replaced by pro-Western general Fazlollah Zahedi, and the Shah, who had left the country briefly to await the outcome of the coup, returned to Iran. He abolished the democratic Constitution and assumed autocratic powers.

After the coup, the NIOC became an international consortium, and AIOC resumed operations in Iran as a member of it. The consortium agreed to share profits on a 50–50 basis with Iran, "but not to open its books to Iranian auditors or to allow Iranians onto its board of directors." AIOC, as a part of the Anglo-American coup d'état deal, was not allowed to monopolize Iranian oil as before. It was limited to a 40% share in a new international consortium. For the rest, 40% went to the five major American companies and 20% went to Royal Dutch Shell and Compagnie Française des Pétroles, now Total S.A..

The AIOC became the British Petroleum Company in 1954. BP continued to operate in Iran until the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The new regime of Ayatollah Khomeini confiscated all of BP's assets in Iran without compensation, finally closing BP's 70-year presence in Iran.

In 1959 the company expanded beyond the Middle East to Alaskamarker and in 1965 it was the first company to strike oil in the North Seamarker.

In 1978 BP acquired a controlling interest in Standard Oil of Ohio or Sohio, a breakoff of the former Standard Oil that had been broken up after anti-trust litigation.

1980s and 1990s

Sir Peter Walters was BP's chairman from 1981 to 1990. This was the era of the Thatcher government's privatisation strategy. The British government sold its entire holding in BP in several tranches between 1979 and 1987. The sale process was marked by a bad attempt by the Kuwait Investment Office, the investment arm of the Kuwaitmarker government, to acquire control of BP. This was ultimately blocked by the strong opposition of the British government. In 1987, British Petroleum negotiated the acquisition of Britoil and the remaining publicly traded shares of Standard Oil of Ohio.

Walters was replaced by Robert Horton in 1989. Horton carried out a major corporate downsizing exercise removing various tiers of management within the BP Head Office.

Lord Browne of Madingley, who had been on the board as managing director since 1991, was appointed group chief executive in 1995. Browne was responsible for three major acquisitions; Amoco, ARCO and Burmah-Castrol (see below).

Recent years

British Petroleum merged with Amoco (formerly Standard Oil of Indiana) in December 1998, becoming BPAmoco until 2000 when it was renamed BP and adopted the tagline "Beyond Petroleum," which remains in use today. It states that BP was never meant to be an abbreviation of its tagline. Most Amoco gas stations in the United States have changed the look and name to the BP brand. In many states, however, BP is selling Amoco branded gasoline, as it was rated the #1 petroleum brand by consumers 16 years in a row (the name of the service station itself is still BP) and Amoco has one of the highest brand loyalty for gasoline in the US with only Chevron and Shell having such high rates as BP/Amoco. In May 2008, however, the Amoco name was mostly phased out in favor of "BP Gasoline with Invigorate", promoting BP's new additive. The highest grade of BP gasoline available in the United States is still called Amoco Ultimate, however. In 2000, British Petroleum acquired Arco and Burmah Castrol plc.

In April 2004, BP decided to move most of its petrochemical businesses into a separate entity called Innovene within the BP Group. Their intention was to sell the new company possibly via an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the US, and in fact they filed their IPO plans for Innovene with the New York Stock Exchangemarker on 12 September 2005. However, on 7 October 2005, BP announced that they had agreed to sell Innovene to INEOS, a privately held UK chemical company for the sum of $9 billion, thereby scrapping their plans for the IPO.

On 23 March 2005, an explosion occurred at BP's Texas City Refinery in Texas Citymarker, Texasmarker. It is the third largest refinery in the United States and one of the largest in the world, processing of crude oil per day and accounting for 3% of that nation's gasoline supply. Over 100 were injured, and 15 were confirmed dead, including employees of the Fluor Corporation as well as BP. BP has since accepted that its mismanagement contributed to the accident. Level indicators failed, leading to overfilling of a heater, and light hydrocarbons spread throughout the area. An unidentified ignition source set off the explosion.

In 2005, BP announced it would be leaving the Coloradomarker market. Many locations were rebranded as Conoco.

According to some private BP-branded gasoline center operators in the Metro Atlanta area, BP plans to leave the Southern market in the next few years. All corporate-owned BP stations, typically known as "BP Connect" will be sold to local jobbers.

In March 2006, a leak in one of BP's pipelines on the North Slope of Alaska caused a spill of oil onto the tundra, leading BP to commit to replace over of federally regulated Oil Transit Lines (OTLs). As of the end of 2007, one half of the pipeline had been replaced and all of pipeline are now tested regularly.

BP has recently looked to grow its oil exploration activities in frontier areas like the former Soviet Union for its future reserves.In Russiamarker, BP owns 50% of TNK-BP with the other half owned by three Russian billionaires. TNK-BP accounts for a fifth of BP's global reserves, a quarter of BP's production, and nearly a tenth of its global profits.

On July 19, 2006, BP announced that it would close the last 12 out of 57 oil wells in Alaska, mostly in Prudhoe Bay, that had been leaking. The wells were leaking insulating agent called Arctic pack, consisting of crude oil and diesel fuel, between the wells and ice.

On 12 January 2007, it was announced that Lord Browne would retire at the end of July 2007. The new Chief Executive will be the current head of exploration and production, Tony Hayward. It had been expected that Lord Browne would retire in February 2008 when he reached the age of 60, the standard retirement age at BP. Browne resigned abruptly from BP on 1 May 2007, following the lifting of a legal injunction preventing Associated Newspapers from publishing details about his private life. Hayward succeeded Browne with immediate effect.


The Board Members are:

Financial data

Financial data in millions of US$
Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Sales 180,186 236,045 294,849 249,465 265,906
EBITDA 22,941 28,200 37,825 41,453 44,835
Net Results 6,845 10,267 15,961 22,341 22,000
Net Debt 20,273 20,193 21,607 16,202 16,202
:::::Source :' OpesC'

Corporate controversies

August 2006 Prudhoe Bay Shutdown

In August, 2006, BP shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Baymarker, Alaska, due to corrosion in pipelines leading up to the Alaska Pipelinemarker. BP had spilled over one million litres of oil in Alaska's North Slope. This corrosion is caused by sediment collecting in the bottom of the pipe, protecting corrosive bacteria from chemicals sent through the pipeline to fight this bacteria. There are estimates that about of oil were released from the pipeline. To date of liquids, about of soiled snow and of soiled gravel have been recovered. After approval from the DOT, only the eastern portion of the field was shut down, resulting in a reduction of until work began to bring the eastern field to full production on October 2, 2006.In May 2007, the company announced another partial field shutdown owing to leaks of water at a separation plant. Their action was interpreted as another example of fallout from a decision to cut maintenance of the pipeline and associated facilities.

October 2007 Prudhoe Bay spill

On 16 October 2007 Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation officials reported a toxic spill of methanol at the Prudhoe Bay oil field managed by BP PLC. Nearly 2,000 gallons of mostly methanol, mixed with some crude oil and water, spilled onto a frozen tundra pond as well as a gravel pad from a pipeline. Methanol, which is poisonous to plants and animals, is used to clear ice from the insides of the Arctic-based pipelines.

November 2008 BP Supports USA over UK

BP has dumped its plans to build out wind farms and other renewable projects in Britain for projects in the United States. The US government incentives for clean energy projects provide convenient tax shelter for oil and gas revenues, something BP is looking for with an estimated $8 billion earmarked for the initiative. Lower economies of scale made the UK wind sector far less attractive than that of the US.

Canadian oil sands

BP are one of numerous firms who are extracting oil from Canadian oil sands, a process that produces four times as much CO2 as conventional drilling, as well as having a devastating effect on the local environment and communities. The Cree aboriginal group describe BP as being complicit in 'the biggest environmental crime on the planet' .

Environmental record

In 2005 BP was considering testing carbon sequestration in one of its North Sea oil fields, by pumping carbon dioxide into them (and thereby also increasing yields). In 2004, BP began marketing low-sulfur diesel fuel for industrial use. BP intends to create a network of hydrogen fueling stations in the state of Californiamarker. BP Solar is a leading producer of solar panels since its purchase of Lucas Energy Systems in 1980 and Solarex (as part of its acquisition of Amoco) in 2000. BP Solar had a 20% world market share in photovoltaic panels in 2004 when it had a capacity to produce 90 MW/year of panels. It has over 30 years experience operating in over 160 countries with manufacturing facilities in the U.S.marker, Spainmarker, Indiamarker and Australia and has more than 2000 employees worldwide. The BP Alternative Energy division has made major investments in solar, wind and hydrogen power. Through a series of acquisitions in the solar power industry BP Solar became the third largest producer of solar panels in the world. It was recently announced that BP has obtained a contract for a pilot project to provide on-site solar power to Wal-mart stores. In the 2006 annual report Lord Browne noted that BP now has a total wind generation capacity of nearly 15,000 mega-watts. Based on calculations of consumption rates by the average American household, 15,000 mega-watts would be sufficient to provide power to 2.5 billion households. Note that households relative to industry is a small measure of electric consumption and therefore 15,000 mega-watts is only a small portion of the world’s electricity needs. However, this does represent a real commitment to wind power generation and actually makes BP one of the largest generators of wind power in the world.

BP was named by Mother Jones Magazine as one of the "ten worst corporations" in both 2001 and 2005 based on its environmental and human rights records. In 1991 BP was cited as the most polluting company in the US based on EPA toxic release data. Since branding itself an environmentally sound corporation in 1997, BP has been charged with burning polluted gases at its Ohio refinery (for which it was fined $1.7 million), and in July 2000 BP paid a $10 million fine to the EPA for its management of its US refineries. According to PIRG research, between January 1997 and March 1998, BP was responsible for 104 oil spills. BP patented the Dracone Barge to aid in oil spill clean-ups across the world.

A Gulf gasoline station in Louisville, KY using the previous BP prototype.
BP purchased all Gulf stations in the southeastern United States in the 1980's after Chevron, Inc. was forced to divest the stations by the United States Justice Department.
BP/Amoco was a member of the Global Climate Coalition an industry organization established to promote global warming skepticism but withdrew in 1997, saying "the time to consider the policy dimensions of climate change is not when the link between greenhouse gases and climate change is conclusively proven, but when the possibility cannot be discounted and is taken seriously by the society of which we are part. We in BP have reached that point.".

In March 2002 Lord Browne of Madingley declared in a speech that global warming was real and that urgent action was needed, saying that "Companies composed of highly skilled and trained people can't live in denial of mounting evidence gathered by hundreds of the most reputable scientists in the world."

British Petroleum changed its name to BP in 2000, and introduced a new corporate slogan: “Beyond Petroleum.” It replaced its “Green Shield” logo with the helios symbol, a green and yellow sunflower pattern similar to the emblem of the Green Party of Canada. These changes were intended to highlight the company’s interest in alternative and environmentally friendly fuels. When, in July 2006, BP admitted, only after journalists became aware of the spill, that it was facing criminal charges for allowing 270,000 gallons of crude oil to spread into the Alaskan tundra, critics pointed to the relative lack of press coverage about the spill as evidence that BP had successfully "greenwashed" its image while maintaining environmentally unsound practices.

BP was one nominee for the 2009 Greenwash Awards, on companies trying to look green and failing.

Texas City Refinery disaster

One of BP's largest refineries in the USA exploded in 2005 causing 15 deaths. The fall-out from the accident continues to cloud BP's corporate image because of the mismanagement at the plant. There have been several investigations of the disaster, the most recent being that from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. It was preceded by the Baker report and BP's own internal investigation.

A large column filled with hydrocarbon overflowed to form a vapor cloud, which ignited. The explosion caused all the casualties and substantial damage to the rest of the plant. The incident came as the culmination of a series of less serious accidents at the refinery, and the engineering problems were not addressed by the management. Maintenance and safety at the plant had been cut as a cost-saving measure, the responsibility ultimately resting with executives in London.

On October 30, 2009 the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposed an $87 million fine on the company for failing to correct safety hazards revealed in the 2005 explosion. The fine was the largest in OSHA's history.

Corporate Challenges

BP's image has been tarnished somewhat by its involvement with the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, criticized for human rights abuses, environmental and safety concerns.

BP has also been criticized for the increase in fuel prices in the UK. On 25 April 2005 Lord Browne stated in an interview with the BBC that he fully expected petrol prices to stay above £1 per litre.

In July 2006, a group of Colombianmarker farmers won a multi million pound settlement from BP after the British oil and gas company was accused of benefiting from a regime of terror carried out by Colombian government paramilitaries to protect a pipeline.

BP "Helios" fueling station in Los Angeles

As of 11 February 2007 BP announced that they would spend $8 billion over ten years to research alternative methods of fuel, including natural gas, hydrogen, solar, and wind. A $500 million grant to the University of California, Berkeleymarker, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratorymarker, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaignmarker, to create an "Energy Biosciences Institute" has recently come under attack, over concerns about the global impacts of the research and privatization of public universities.

In March 2007, BP unveiled its Helios fuel station on Olympic Boulevard in Los Angelesmarker. The station has radical architecture for a fuel station, and is a "living lab" for green technologies. However, although there are solar panels on the roof, as of July 2007 they are not yet operational.

There have been some calls for BP to halt its "Mist Mountain" Coalbed Methane Project in the Southern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia. The proposed 500 km² project is directly adjacent to the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Contributions to political campaigns

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, BP is the United States' hundredth largest donor to political campaigns, having contributed more than US$5 million since 1990, 72% and 28% of which went to Republican and Democratic recipients, respectively. BP has lobbied to gain exemptions from U.S. corporate law reforms. Additionally, BP paid the Podesta Group, a Washington, D.C.marker-based lobbying firm, $160,000 in the first half of 2007 to manage its congressional and government relations.

In February 2002 BP's chief executive, Lord Browne of Madingley, renounced the practice of corporate campaign contributions, noting: "That's why we've decided, as a global policy, that from now on we will make no political contributions from corporate funds anywhere in the world."

BP retail brands


BP is one of the world's shortest and most valuable brands. The Helios Logo (Helios was the name of the Greek sun god), represents energy in its many forms. The value of the brand is enhanced by the fact that the company ownsthe two letter internet domain The company management was ahead of the internet age registering the domain in 1989 (Nov 10 1989), years before internet became popular.Only very few large corporations are in the Internet Hall of Fame and own their acronym as two letter domain name.


ampm is a convenience store chain with branches located in several U.S. states including Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, recently in Illinois, Indiana, Georgia and Florida, and in several countries worldwide such as Japan. In the western US, the stores are usually attached to an ARCO gas station; elsewhere, the stores are attached to BP gas stations. BP Connect stations in the US are transitioning to the ampm brand.


ARCO is BP's retail brand on the US West Coast in the seven Western States of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, and Utah. BP acquired ARCO (formerly the AtlanticRichfieldCompany) in 2000. ARCO is a popular "cash only" retailer, selling products refined from Alaska North Slope crude at plants at Cherry Point (WA), Los Angeles (CA) and at other contract locations on the West Coast.

BP Travel Centre

BP Travel Centers are large scale destination sites located in Australia which on top of offering the same features of a BP Connect site with fuel and a Wild Bean Cafe, also feature major food-retail tenants such as McDonalds, KFC, Nando's and recently Krispy Kreme, with a large seating capacity foodcourt. There are also facilities for long-haul truck drivers including lounge, showers and washing machines all in the same building. There are 4 travel centers located in South East Queensland, Australia. Two on the Pacific Highway (Coomera and Stapylton) and two on the Bruce Highway (Caboolture). A fifth travel center was opened in 2007 at Chinderah in northern New South Wales.

BP Connect

BP Connect is BP's flagship retail brand name with BP Connect Service stations being operated around the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and other parts of the world. BP Connect sites feature the Wild Bean Cafe which offers cafe style coffee made by the staff and a selection of hot food as well as freshly baked muffins and sandwiches. The food offered in Wild Bean Cafe varies from each site. BP Connect sites usually offer table and chair seating and often an Internet kiosk. In the US, the BP Connect concept is gradually being transitioned to the ampm brand and concept. Some BP Connect sites around the UK ran in partnership with Marks & Spencer with the on-site shop being an M&S Simply Food instead of a BP Shop.

BP Express

BP Express was the flagship BP brand prior to the introduction of BP Connect in 2000. There are still some BP Express sites operating around the world but most have been either upgraded to Connect or changed to an alternative brand. BP Express offers a bakery service but doesn't have the selection of food offered in the Wild Bean Cafe and usually coffee is only available through a self service machine.

BP Shop

BP Shop is commonly used on smaller sites mainly independently owned sites. Products vary in each BP Shop but usually a selection of convenience store style food and automotive products.

BP 2go

BP 2go is a franchise brand used for independently operated sites in New Zealand and is currently being rolled out throughout Australia (Although not all BP 2go stores are franchises in Australia). BP 2go sites mainly operate in towns and outer suburbs in New Zealand. BP 2go offers similar bakery food to BP Connect but in a pre-packaged form. Some BP Express sites around New Zealand and Australia that were considered too small to be upgraded to BP Connect were given the option to change to BP 2go others were downgraded to BP Shop. Staff at some BP 2go sites wear a different style of uniform to the rest of the BP branded sites, however in company owned and operated 2go sites in Australia the same uniform is worn across all sites.


Castrol is a brand of motor oil and other lubricants which is entirely a BP brand but tends to retain its separate identity.

Air BP and BP Shipping

Air BP is the aviation fuel arm, BP Marine the marine fuels and lubricants arm and BP Shipping is the Shipping arm within the BP group


The recent BP advertising campaign has been criticized by many as a superficial and stereotypical representation of the common man. Often the ads showcase a series of "man-on-the-street" type questionnaires in which obviously paid actors answer certain questions pertaining to BP. However, the music composed by BP for the purpose of the ads has been praised and lauded.

BP was also recently awarded a satirical prize, the "Emerald Paintbrush" award, by Greenpeace UK. The "Emerald Paintbrush" award was given to BP in order to highlight its alleged greenwashing campaign. Critics point out that while BP advertises its relatively minimal investment in alternative energy sources, the majority of its investments continue to go into fossil fuels.[702903]

BP is a sponsor of the Scripps Institution CO2 program to measure carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. [702904]


  • The history of the British Petroleum Company
    • Vol. I:R.W.Ferrier, The Developing Years 1901-1932, Cambridge University Press, 1982
    • Vol. II: James H. Bamberg, The Anglo-Iranian Years, 1928-1954, Cambridge University Press, 1994
    • Vol. III: James H. Bamberg, British Petroleum and Global Oil, 1951-1975: The Challenge of Nationalism, Cambridge University Press, 2000

For the early history of BP in Iran and Iraq see

Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Brysac. Kingmakers: the Invention of the Modern Middle East. W.W. Norton (2008)ISBN 978-0-393-06199-4

See also


  1. " Contact BP in the United Kingdom." BP. Retrieved on 18 August 2009.
  2. " Maps." City of Westminster. Retrieved on 28 August 2009.
  3. It's about time oil started defending itself
  4. Australian Dictionary of Biography
  6. Yousof Mazandi, United Press, and Edwin Muller, Government by Assassination (Reader's Digest September 1951)
  7. [1]
  9. [2]
  10. New York Times article, 1953
  11. Kinzer, All the Shah's Men, (2003), p.195–6
  12. Background to Confrontation
  13. Natural Gas and Alaska's Future: The Facts page 22
  14. BP dossier
  15. Sohio timeline
  16. TNK appoints Sir Peter Walters
  17. Privitisation
  18. Kuwait has 10% of BP
  19. Britain drops a barrier to BP bid
  20. Organising for performance: how BP did it
  21. Royal Academy of Engineering
  22. BP and Amoco in oil mega-merger
  23. BP strikes it rich in America
  24. BP Amoco to buy Burmah Castrol
  25. BP sells chemical unit for £5bn
  26. Errors led to BP refinery blast
  27. BP puts 100 gas stations up for sale in Colorado.(British Petroleum Company PLC)
  28. Gas station signs of change
  29. BP to Sell Most Company-Owned, Company-Operated Convenience Stores to Franchisees
  30. Oil Gushes into Arctic Ocean from BP Pipeline
  31. "BP Set to Leave Russia Gas Project" by Guy Chazan and Gregory White, Wall Street Journal, 2007-06-22 p. A3.
  32. BP CEO set to retire
  33. BP's Browne quits over lie
  34. BP: The Board
  35. Alaska Oil Spill Fuels Concerns Over Arctic Wildlife, Future Drilling
  36. BP accused of 'draconian' cost cuts prior to Alaskan pipeline spill
  37. Methanol and crude spill from Prudhoe Bay pipeline
  38. BP (LON:BP) report - Concentrating on operational efficiencies and production
  39. The tactics of these rogue climate elements must not succeed
  40. Cree aboriginal group to join London climate camp protest over tar sands
  41. Seabed supplies a cure for global warming crisis
  42. Ten Worst Corporations of 2000
  43. The 10 Worst Corporations of 2005
  44. bp: Beyond Petroleum?
  46. How green is BP?
  47. George Monbiot: Behind the spin, the oil giants are more dangerous than ever | Comment is free | The Guardian
  48. Edinburgh Evening News
  49. [3]
  50. Baker Panel Report
  51. Associated Press, "BP fined record $87 million for safety breaches", October 31, 2009.
  52. The Baku Ceyhan Pipeline: BP's Time Bomb
  53. UK petrol could top £1 a litre
  54. BP pays out millions to Colombian farmers
  55. Energy Biosciences Institute - Main Home
  56. Stop BP-Berkeley
  57. About the station | The greencurve
  58. 'Green' BP Station Still Pumps Gas : NPR
  59. BP unveils green gas station : Business News : Redding Record Searchlight
  60. Citizens concerned about project
  61. BP stops paying political parties
  62. Internet Hall of Fame - List of large corporations that own a Two Letter .com Domain

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