KNOWLEDGE | INTERVIEW WITH

Luis Aires, Chairman of BP in Spain: “BP and CLH share the values of safety and excellence”

BP, a CLH customer for nearly 30 years, talks to us about its strategy for the future and sector vision.


BP, with more than 60 years of history in Spain, has become one of the three leading operators in the country. What are the keys to being there?

There are mainly three keys to our growth in Spain. Firstly, the refinery in Castellón, which is recognised as the best BP refinery being operated in the world and where we are constantly investing so it can continue to be a sector reference and an economic and industrial driver in the region of Comunidad Valenciana. Secondly, our network of service stations which are committed to excellent and safe customer service by offering them a market-leading loyalty programme, the best quality fuels found in the country and all-new modern convenience shops. And last but not least, the international nature of our company which provides us with a global perspective of the world of energy as well as access to technological developments and experiences in other markets. All of this is part of our innovative character with which we aim to constantly improve and continue giving the best we have to offer.

BP sustains its activities on technology. With this in mind, where is the company going? What are the business implications?

Technology plays a fundamental role in the energy sector Seismic images and progress in drilling in recent years have made it possible to extract gas and petroleum at depths once thought to be all science fiction just a few decades ago. At the same time, the development of technologies to extract unconventional hydrocarbons, such as fracking, has caused a revolution in oil barrel prices and challenged the traditional hegemony of OPEC countries. On the other hand, renewable energies are becoming more and more competitive following a drop in costs through technological developments.

“Our intention is to continue supplying the energy demanded by the transport of the future, whether that be petrol, gas oil, hydrogen, electricity or whatever”

Companies that turn their backs on technological development are renouncing their future. Technological changes will affect the production of energy and its use in all economic activity sectors. The digitisation of energy has the potential to reduce the demand and the cost thereof by 20-30% by 2050 through process automation, the use of sensors, artificial intelligence, data analysis and the use of super-computers as part of the fourth industrial revolution. The production of energy will continue to become less expensive in the future through technological developments in traditional sources (oil and gas) as well as renewable ones (wind and solar) with the cost of lithium-ion batteries dropping 66% by 2030. The reduction of the costs of batteries, the increase in their capacity, the greater charging speeds, autonomous and shared vehicles... all of these trends will continue to revolutionise mobility and all of us at the energy companies must stay alert as traditional models will have to compete with new business models generating opportunities now inexistent.

BP is committed to a transition towards a low-carbon economy through energy efficiency, scientific research and technological development. What does this mean?

We are faced with the dual challenge of supplying larger and larger quantities of energy to meet society’s needs for continuous growth all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This dilemma may be handled by using the most efficient energy possible; in other words, by reducing consumption as well as replacing the most contaminating energy sources (coal) with others that contaminate less (natural gas) or offer zero emissions (renewable ones). The challenge of fulfilling the Paris commitments is so huge that the race for renewable energy BP began twenty years ago will not be enough. All energy sources have to contribute by reducing their environmental impact.

To this end, BP’s contribution is based on three cornerstones. Firstly, we have committed to reducing emissions from our operations by 2025. Secondly, we are developing more efficient fuels which, therefore, produce less emissions and doing researching in petrochemical fuels, lubricants and products with a lower carbon content. Finally, we are engaged in developing low-carbon technologies such as with solar projects through Lightsource BP, energy storage and ultra-fast battery charging.

Major investments have been made in innovation for ultra-fast electric vehicle charging. Is BP ready for a new paradigm in mobility?

Transport accounts for 20% of the world’s primary energy demand and our estimate is that the number of light vehicles (automobiles, vans and small lorries) will increase from 1.2 billion today to 2.6 billion by 2050. There are little more than 1.5 million electric vehicles around the world today due to the high cost and limited features although technological developments in the coming years will bring these costs down to levels that are comparable to internal combustion engines and their autonomy will increase considerably.

Our intention is to continue supplying the energy demanded by the transport of the future, whether that be petrol, gas oil, hydrogen, electricity or whatever as well as the services related to autonomous and shared mobility. With respect to electric vehicles, if we wish to bring them to our service stations in the future, we must be able to ensure charging times that are similar to refuelling times. And, so we are developing ultra-fast battery charging with our participation in StoreDot and the purchase of the British sector leader: Chargemaster.

The organisation maintains the goal for 2020 that at least 25% of executive offices will be held by women. What are the policies behind this commitment?

We would like to increase female participation in management positions through meritocracy without quotas or positive discrimination. We’re aware that in order to so, we must help women break the glass ceiling that is making their career progress difficult and preventing equality between men and women in the highest levels of responsibility. We’re making sure that all internal and external selection processes include women among the lists of qualified candidates. We have policies that help balance work and family such as timetable flexibility and working from home for people to organise themselves as best as possible and are even extending maternity leaves. Likewise, we are promoting networks that help women feel more confident for job interviews or in conversations regarding their professional aspirations.

“With CLH, we have established a trustworthy and mature relationship that must allow us to identify innovative opportunities and become more and more competitive”

Diversity and inclusion are essential parts of our culture at BP and go beyond labour policies as they have to do with the behaviour of everyone who is a part of the organisation, especially those with team management responsibilities.

BP has been a significant partner for CLH for many years and continues to be one of its main customers in Spain. What would you highlight about this relationship and the service currently offered by CLH to BP?

BP and CLH have been working together for many years and there’s a lot that connects us. We could begin with operational safety, which is one of our values as a company. We also share the idea of excellence in everything we do as well as the goal of providing our customers with friendly and added-value services. We have established a trustworthy relationship over the nearly 30 years we’ve been working together. This maturity in our relationship must allow us to identify innovative opportunities based on each company’s strengths so we can be more and more competitive all the time in a world where liquid fuels will continue to play an important role in economic development yet will need to reduce their carbon footprint and compete with alternative energies.