John Browne’s 1997 Stanford University Speech: The “Beyond Petroleum” Beginning (and beginning of the end of BP?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 19, 2010 22 Comments

“Stephen H. Schneider, a climate researcher and Stanford professor who wrote the first popular book on global warming, said [that Browne’s] speech was a welcome change of direction for an industry that has, until now, denied that global warming is a problem. ‘They’re out of climate denial,’ Schneider said.”

– Quoted in Glennda Chui, “BP Official Takes Global Warming Seriously,” San Jose Mercury News, May 20, 1997, sec. A. 20.

Then BP CEO John Browne’s speech at Stanford University in May 1997 marked the beginning of the company’s “green” (or to critics, greenwashing) approach to product differentiation and corporate governance. Left environmentalists applauded heartily–and would continue to do so until the Deepwater Horizon accident of April 2010.

Browne’s speech began by begging the question and proceeded to a non sequitur.

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Notes: 1998 Enron Meeting on Climate Change

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 9, 2023 No Comments

“… why doesn’t a congressional subcommittee call these companies and a few more to tell us exactly what they are up to and what is going to happen to energy prices where parties have to buy credits for something that is not a pollutant?  After the meeting the company that has done the most to sell Kyoto should be awarded naming rights.”

I had a front row seat to many things energy and climate during my 16 years at Enron (1985–2001). At Political Capitalism, I described my Enron experience debating climate science and renewable policy (here).

Enron, in the words of a Greenpeace ex, was “the company most responsible for sparking off the greenhouse civil war in the hydrocarbon business.” [Jeremy Leggett, The Carbon War (London: Penguin Books, 1999, p.…

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“BP’s CEO Plays Down Renewables Push as Returns Lag” (‘beyond petroleum’ imaging wearing thin)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 2, 2023 3 Comments

“[CEO Bernard Looney] and other BP executives have suggested that the company could play down future investment in areas including solar energy and offshore wind, according to some of the people. Discussions about the company’s direction have caused rifts inside BP over the past year, people close to the company say.”

The Wall Street Journal published a very revealing piece yesterday. “Bernard Looney seeks to sharpen strategic focus, with less emphasis on environmental goals,” reported Jenny Stasburg (February 1, 2023).

She begins:

Chief Executive Bernard Looney plans to dial back elements of the oil giant’s high-profile push into renewable energy, according to people familiar with recent discussions.

Mr. Looney has said he is disappointed in the returns from some of the oil giant’s renewable investments and plans to pursue a narrower green-energy strategy, the people said.

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Duke Energy’s Rolling Blackouts: Remember Jim Rogers’ CO2 Politics

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 17, 2023 No Comments

Ed. Note: In mid-2019, MasterResource published a post on a notable political capitalist in the history of the energy industry, the late James E. Rogers, longtime CEO of Duke Energy. With that company’s rolling blackouts (“load shedding”) over Christmas weekend for a half-million customers “for the first time in the utility’s history“, it is worth remembering the damage done to free markets and electric reliability by the political track chosen by one executive. (The post is reproduced below with minor edits.)

At 41 [in 1988], [James Rogers] was named CEO of PSI Energy Inc., a small, financially troubled Indiana utility. Breaking ranks with others in the electric-power industry, he supported legislation putting caps on sulfur-dioxide emissions. “Some of my guys thought I was drinking the environmental Kool-Aid,” he said later.

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Deepwater Horizon at 11: Remember “Beyond Petroleum” BP

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 20, 2021 No Comments Continue Reading

Shell’s van Beurden Shames Oil and Gas

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 8, 2020 1 Comment Continue Reading

GE: Contra-Capitalism’s Toll (lightbulb unit sold)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 15, 2020 5 Comments Continue Reading

Lee Raymond, JP Morgan Win Climate Proxy Votes

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- May 26, 2020 1 Comment Continue Reading

Fossil-fuel BP vs. Fossil Fuels (a contra-capitalist company at work)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- March 30, 2020 1 Comment Continue Reading

“Execs’ Open Letter to 2020 Candidates Promotes Oil & Natural Gas”

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 26, 2020 5 Comments Continue Reading