BP isn't just the petroleum bellwether, it is also one of the world's largest companies. With an empire that stretches back over 100 years, the corporation now employs almost 100,000 people in more than 100 countries across six continents.
- Good benefits and solid pay
- Supportive culture that looks after its employees
- Good work/life balance
- Good early development opportunities and training
- A solid name to have on your CV
- Overbearing politics and red tape at times
- Advancement sometimes tied more to seniority than merit
- High turnover
To call BP a large company would be underselling the scale of this bona fide petroleum king; it is the fourth largest company in the world with an annual turnover of £169 billion. The company employs almost 100,000 people in more than 100 countries across six continents, has a presence in several sectors within the energy industry, and an empire that stretches back over 100 years.
In 1901, William Knox D'Arcy was granted a concession by the Shah of Iran to search for oil. In May 1908, he discovered the first commercially significant find in the Middle East, and on April 14th 1909, The Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) was incorporated to exploit this. The APOC was BP’s first guise, followed by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, mirroring Persia’s name change to Iran in 1935. The company then became British Petroleum in 1954 before finally settling on its current designation, BP, in 2000.
Under Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation strategy, the British government sold its entire holding in BP in several trenches between 1979 and 1987. Its subsequent time in the private sector has seen BP make three major acquisitions: Amoco, ARCO and Burmah-Castrol.
Today, BP is a real petroleum heavyweight with 24,100 service stations and reserves of 17.8 billon barrels of oil and gas equivalent. Approximately 40 percent of these assets are in North America while 25 percent rest in Europe. Amazingly, approximately 5.6 million barrels of BP’s refined product are sold every day.
BP’s business is split into two major departments: exploration and production and refining and marketing. The group’s strategy for exploration and production, is to hunt for the largest fields in the world’s most prolific hydrocarbon basins. It then looks to manage the assets so as to balance out declining assets with more competitive ones. BP has indentified “profit centres” in the Asia Pacific, West Africa, the Caspian region and Russia, and also its current “declining established profit centres”, most prevalent in Alaska, Latin America and the North Sea.
Refining and Marketing is BP’s product and services-led branch, focussing on fuels, lubricants and chemicals products. This department is responsible for ensuring its markets are kept well supplied with high quality products at all times. In 2008, the company rolled out several new brands in addition to the core BP name. These include its US convenience store chain, am/pm, and its fresh drinks brand, Wild Bean Café. In Germany, BP is still known as Aral, the brand acquired in the takeover of the German company, Veba. The group even sells lubricants under the brands Castrol and BP, epitomizing the breath of the products and services it provides.
Over the years, BP has, given the nature of its business, seen its fair share of incidents and controversies. In September 1999, one of BP’s US subsidiaries, BP Exploration Alaska (BPXA), agreed to charges related to the illegal dumping of hazardous wastes on the Alaska North Slope, for £10 million. In March 2005, BP's Texas City, Texas refinery, one of its largest refineries, exploded causing 15 deaths, injuring 180 people and forcing thousands of nearby residents to remain sheltered in their homes. The incident came as the culmination of a series of less serious accidents at the refinery; maintenance and safety at the plant had been cut as a cost-saving measure. In August 2006, BP shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, due to corrosion in pipelines leading up to the Alaska pipeline which spilled over one million litres of oil. 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.
More recently, on April 20, 2010, a semi-submersible exploratory offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded after a blowout and sank two days later, killing eleven people and causing a massive oil spill threatening the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida. Estimated oil flow rates between 56,000 to 84,000 barrels per day suggest that the total size of the leak may well be in excess of 100,000 barrels per day and represent by far the largest oil spill in US history.
Nonetheless BP’s maintains a steadfast commitment to the environment in which it operates. BP release annual sustainability reports, dedicated to ecological concerns and to defining strategies for minimising negative operational impact on the environment. One recent introduction was ERNP: environmental requirements for new projects. This manifests in a range of environmental assessments required before a project can be put into practice. These considerations include air quality, community disturbance, energy efficiency, emission of ozone, depleting substances and waste management.
Candidates can apply for graduate schemes at BP on the company's website. On submitting an application, the applicant will be sent online aptitude tests covering both verbal, non verbal and numerical reasoning. If successful, you will then be invited for an initial competency based interview during which you will discuss your achievements, goals and ambitions, the occasional technical questions for those seeking to pursue a role in engineering or science. If you’ve impressed, you will be asked to participate in a two day assessment centre which will take you through several interviews, a presentation and both competitive and collaborative group exercises.
Unsurprisingly, BP has a host of opportunities for students, graduates and postgraduate students.
Internships are available in engineering, science and business and in the UK alone the company takes on around 100 interns each year for its summer and year-long internship programs. The summer internships last from eight to 13 weeks and usually take place the summer before a students’ final academic year. BP promises you’ll get to work alongside experienced colleagues and use the latest technologies.
For graduates, BP recruits at every stage of the energy life cycle from engineers who build platforms in the middle of the ocean to those who trade in the energy and financial markets. BP recruits graduates from a variety of engineering, scientific and other disciplines and their graduate programmes typically last for three years. After completion of the programme, graduates will have developed the skills and knowledge to be able to perform a stand-alone role in their chosen field.
BP offers a Technology Associate Programme, aimed mainly at researchers who hold a PhD and are doing post-graduate work in areas relevant to the company’s focus. This program consists of two placements of 12 to 18 months’ duration, at the end of which participants can take up a permanent role at BP. For those who are interested in having a pan-European focus to their training, the company’s Eurograduate programme gives the opportunity to experience three diverse placements in two or three countries across the Continent over a five year period. These would be in areas such as marketing, procurement, operations, trading, finance, business analysis, digital business, project evaluation, mergers and acquisitions or human resources. This programme is available to applicants with a business or technical degree at Masters level, complemented by practical experience for those with technical backgrounds.
Employer Type: Public
2009 Revenue: $246,138 mil
No. of Employees: 92,000
No. of Graduate Roles: 175
No. of Locations: 100+ countries
Graduate Salary: £32,000+
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BP is located in more than 100 countries worldwide