BP is “actively pursuing” floating wind leases for development, according to a senior US executive, as reports claimed the oil giant withdrew from the deepwater seabed auction off California last December and is rethinking its overall offshore wind strategy.
“Right now, we’re growing the fixed-bottom and the floating, we’re still actively pursuing leases… it’s definitely one of our areas and we have more of a strategy around that,” David Petruska, BP’s senior advisor on floating wind solutions, told a panel at the Floating Wind Solutions conference in Houston this week.
BP has signalled ambitions in fixed-bottom offshore wind in the US, Europe and Asia since entering the sector in 2020 with its 50% acquisition of Norwegian energy giant Equinor’s New York-sited projects.
The Equinor-BP joint venture (JV) is developing the 2.1GW Empire Wind 1 & 2 and 1.2GW Beacon Wind 1 projects and has submitted bids into New York’s round 3 tender with a 1.3GW Beacon Wind 2 proposal.
Despite an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) alleging that some wind developers and market investors considered the $1.1bn price BP paid for the first stakes as “inflated”, a representative for Equinor told Recharge that it was collaborating well with BP on the US east coast assets and that “the projects are making strong progress”.
The WSJ further claimed that BP, whose chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss in 2021 once said offshore wind had replaced oil as the new “upstream”, has been shying away from expanding its US offshore wind ambitions and last year “balked at the last minute” from joining Equinor in its bid into the California floating auction. BP was a qualified bidder for the round but didn’t participate, amid what is claimed to be a wider rethink over the speed of its push into renewables.
Approached by Recharge, BP, which is due to report its annual results on Tuesday, declined to comment.
Equinor for its part emerged a winner in the 6 December round, paying $130m – the lowest price in the auction – for the westernmost acreage in Morro Bay off the central California coastline.
Equinor “believes California will become a strategic floating market globally,” said the company representative.
The Joe Biden administration is aiming for 15GW of floating wind capacity in US waters in parallel with the 30GW by 2030 “national goal”.
BP is a major player in Gulf of Mexico offshore oil & gas, having invested $10bn in upgrading existing assets and developing new ones over the last five years, including the ultra-deepwater Mad Dog 2 field in waters over 2,000 metres deep. The oil giant produces some 290,000 barrels per day (boe/d) in the Gulf and expects this to rise to 400,000 boe/d by the middle of this decade.
Petruska said the firm aims to leverage its floating oil & gas experience to jumpstart floating wind development but cautioned that while there are similarities between the two sectors, there are also “big differences between floating oil & gas and floating wind”.
The supermajor under CEO Bernard Looney has published headline corporate targets of 20GW of renewable energy by 2025 and 50GW by 2030, net to BP, fuelled by revenues generated through its oil and gas operations.
Consultancy DNV calculates floating projects currently make up over 15% of the total offshore wind deployment in the pipeline for switch-on by mid-century, equal to some 264GW of the 1,750GW slated to be installed.