May 17 (UPI) -- Though fossil fuels will continue to have a role in the global energy mix, a pillar of growth for BP is low-carbon opportunities, CEO Bob Dudley said Wednesday.
The British energy company reported a first quarter profit of $1.5 billion, compared with a year-over-year loss of $583 million. BP is joining its industry peers in reporting a strong recovery in early 2017, after slogging through a 2016 market that saw crude oil prices drop below $30 per barrel.
Speaking from London during the company's annual meeting, Dudley said the energy sector was shifting toward one that balances oil and gas opportunities with renewable energy. One of the strategies for growth, he said, was in the low-carbon sector.
"We already have a head start with a 20-year track record in renewables," he said. "We have about 6,000 employees in these businesses."
BP was forced to shed some staff tied to North Sea operations during last year's oil price slump. In April, British petrochemicals company INEOS agreed to pay BP up to a quarter billion dollars to acquire the 235-mile Forties pipeline system, which ties 85 oil and gas assets in the North Sea to the British mainland.
For renewables, the wind energy division of BP has a supply and maintenance deal with General Electric, which holds a central position in the turbine sector. Dudley in his prepared remarks said his company needed to adapt to a changing market by "taking opportunities at the right time and helping to drive the move to a lower carbon world."
For oil, Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said consumption will slow and peak "eventually." In its monthly market report, the International Energy Agency said there were signs that demand was starting to balance out against supplies. That helped resettle a floor under crude oil prices of around $50 per barrel, the Svangberg said the market "will continue to be under pressure."
BP said it would have 800,000 barrels of new production in its portfolio by 2020.