Technology is vital to BP´s business success، as it is to all oil companies، large، small، national or international. Technology underpins the search for oil and gas، it drives its production and use. It stimulates innovation. Through technology not only can we find more resources and produce a greater proportion of what we find but we can make more efficient use of them once produced. Technology can create new chemicals and find new sources of energy، it makes it easier to control costs، safeguard the environment and improve safety. The successful application of technology is one of the key drivers of business performance.
Business Impact & Focus - In BP we drive technology forward primarily through our business units and at major technology complexes in the UK and US. The old idea of technology may generate visions of men in white coats working in backrooms، often isolated from day to day business objectives، searching for that elusive once-in-a-lifetime scientific breakthrough. In reality these scenes no longer exist in today’s commercially driven world. In BP، most of the backrooms have been converted into high tech workplaces، while the splendid isolation has been replaced by a keen awareness of the connections between focused research and strategic business goals. What has not changed is the underlying deep know-how possessed by the company’s 20،000+ technical professionals and their continuing ability to achieve breakthrough business success through the development and timely application of technology. Some impressive results have been achieved، including pioneering work on the recovery of oil and condensate using gas injection and initiatives to reduce the environmental impact and waste of our operations. Overall، we believe new technology has cut the cost of producing oil and gas by at least 30% in the past 10 years. Technology has been the primary driver behind increased efficiency and lower costs in the upstream business over the last decade; the cost of supply has reduced from >$10/boe in early 90´s to ca. $5/boe today; the finding cost is also a good example، BP’s Finding cost was about $5/boe in early 90´s but is now less than $1/boe. The use of 3D seismic، the widespread use of horizontal wells and improved reservoir management and application of enhanced recovery techniques leading to increased recovery factors has driven some of this.
Application - In these examples as in all our activities it is the business performance (the end result) that is BP’s motivation for technology development and application. Technology in itself is only a part of achieving the desired business goals. It is the application of technology، knowing what is best in a given circumstance، balancing cost، performance and risk in an appropriate way in each project that is key to success. For example this may not always mean using the “latest and greatest” but sometimes using the “tried and tested” to manage risks down. In other cases the latest leading edge techniques may be an integral part of a project concept and be key in getting it off the ground.
Partnership - BP’s method for sourcing technology has also set the company apart from its competitors. In recent years BP has adopted a three-pronged approach of internal technology development، acquiring technology from the marketplace، and co-developing new ideas with service and supply companies. About a third of the company’s total technology spend – a figure considerably greater than the R&D budget – has been external، aimed at development and application of new technology outside routine daily activities.
In an often aggressive and protective business world، a robust balance between internal and external supply is required. BP will perform internal R&D where it is critical to maintaining or developing a competitive advantage، and will use intellectual property protection as part of our strategy. However we will continue to share technology with our co-developers where it is appropriate، and are prepared to support emerging technology in order to encourage a choice of suppliers in what is fast becoming a consolidated market.
BP’s experience in bringing major companies together both upstream and downstream has taught us many things. Different approaches to technology have value and achieving the correct balances will always remain challenging. What is certain however is that working together in partnership with others will remain a key to our success. Current examples of the partnership approach include a link، with the University of Cambridge، which aims to improve the fundamental science that supports our industry. Another، with General Motors، is concentrating on the search for cleaner fuels. In Iran we have recently joined with NIOC and a group of other oil companies to work in cooperation on Improved Oil Recovery.
In the Middle East all our business is carried out in various partnerships. Our businesses in Abu Dhabi and in Kuwait are further examples our open approach. In Kuwait we have an agreement with KOC، which enables us to share BP technology in an open way. In both these countries BP experts are seconded to the National Oil companies to provide technology and know-how transfer.
Style – Learning & Openness Technology transfer and knowledge management is about sharing ideas and experiences، about breaking down walls، or rather، moving through them، to be able to share learning throughout an organization and even more challenging، between organisations working together in partnership. Organizational learning is sometimes used as another term for knowledge management and indeed technology transfer is also about sharing learning. In fact this is often about people – people empowered through processes، people working together through a shared interest in technologies and through shared or aligned objectives. Often the design of partnerships and the alignment of objectives has a greater impact on people’s motivations and abilities to work together successfully than anything else. It is through this sharing of learning and ideas that we will create and innovate and meet the ever-changing goals of our industry and our world.
Sharing & Networks - How do we do this? BP is distinguished among its competitors by a reliance on networks as the principal organizational mechanism for sharing know-how between businesses، teams and individuals and externally with other organisations. Whether in the form of delivery or enabling networks، well-established communities of practice، or less formal associations، networks span all aspects of our business focus. They provide the forum to pose questions، share knowledge، transfer practice and generate innovative solutions.
Consider، for example، BP’s Green Operations Network، which was launched more than five years ago and now has more than a thousand members worldwide، focused on meeting the global greenhouse gas emissions challenge. The network has a formal budget and an active discussion forum and website، hosting dozens of conversations each month during which members ask questions، pass on ideas، and create new possibilities about how to achieve operational objectives in ways that align with the company’s green brand attribute. This network has enabled BP to meet its target of 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the past five years.
These networks are strong and growing. BP’s organizational learning strategy embeds this critical practice inside key business processes and is intended to build a seamless capability for encouraging innovation and sharing know-how throughout the corporation. Our aim is to be as inclusive as possible of employees، contractors، partners، customers and suppliers in the learning process.
This will be achieved through building a culture، which challenges us to find ways to share what has been learned، and rewards us when we do. It’s about creating the time and space for reflection and posing the question: ‘What do I need to know in order to do my best، and what’s the best way of getting that knowledge?’ It’s finding the people who have done similar things and discussing with them what you are planning. It is about using their learning. It is creating a culture of individuals who are، at once، the learned and the learner، the teacher and the student – a true culture of sharing.
BP is a global organization containing a vast and diverse array of knowledge and talent، which thrives amongst its 100،000 people. For example in a recent project I was involved in، I was working in a team with over 20 different nationalities represented، emphasizing our international character، but a truly diverse group. The effective communication and mixing of this wealth of knowledge، experience and talent is key to our future success. The corporate challenges ahead demand the sharing and use of knowledge and talent، in an environment designed to capture such a valuable prize. Doing so، increasingly، is an imperative for a successful future.