Can progressive oil companies attract fresh blood into the industry?

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Eleven Team Eleven News, Energy & Commodities

Can progressive oil companies use their role in the energy transition to help attract fresh blood into the industry?

During last year’s Energy Risk Europe event, a panel discussion was held to discuss how to attract and retain talent in the energy industry. The panellists and audience agreed that companies within the industry need to take action in order to attract fresh blood from younger generations. ​

Increasingly aware of the skill shortages facing the industry, Eleven Recruitment conducted a quantitative survey and in-depth interviews last year to assess the extent of the problem, find causes and practical solutions. 

 Suggested solutions included embracing education and encouraging apprenticeships, which will no doubt reach a younger audience, but that doesn’t change the fact that 67% of graduates think that working in a job that contributes to climate change is unethical, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. 

Perceptions of the industry  

During the Energy Risk conference, Anthony Baron from Eleven Recruitment, said: “The industry, particularly in relation to fossil fuel production is often seen by millennials as doing more harm to the planet than good”. With this impression doing a grand job of dissuading younger generations from working in the industry, it is now more important than ever that a company is able to demonstrate what it is doing to decrease its effect on the environment. This bring us to a further solution – giving the industry a make-over.  

How do you give one of the oldest industries in the world a make-over? As is often the case, a large company leading by example can often be the best way to achieve this, and luckily one has.  

Not so much a make-over as a complete structural change, oil giant BP has taken colossal steps to bring about and promote change in the oil industry. Here is an overview of BP’s 2020 actions so far:  


  • Bernard Looney became chief executive officer of BP 28 years after joining the company as a graduate engineer.  

  • Bernard believes that BP can play a leading role in helping the world to re-engineer the energy system 

  • After just two weeks as CEO, Looney announced that BP will “stop corporate reputation advertising” and the Possibilities Everywhere ad campaign will end and not be replaced. Last year, the campaign received legal complaints from charities such as ClientEarth, who suggested that the ad could mislead people into thinking that BP are a renewable company, when 96% of the company’s spend is on oil and gas 

  • The aim is for BP to become a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner, with the additional aim of helping the world achieve net-zero too 

  • BP became 50/50 partners in Lightsource BP, a solar developer  

  • The company is replacing the upstream/downstream model with one that is more focused to face the transition head on. To coincide with this, BP is under a major restructure within the company  


Although still primarily an oil company, BP is making waves in transitioning along with the energy industry. Looney said the company will “increasingly focus our investments on the highest quality barrels and drive returns and cash flow, not production volumes”.  

 The transparency of admitting that oil is still required, combined with the company’s shift in focus could be instrumental in attracting millennials and generation Zs, who recognise the necessity of this shift and want to be part of the transition to a sustainable future. 

 Other European companies, including Shell, ENI, Total and Repsol have also been taking action to move along with the energy transition. Examples include Shell’s Net Carbon Footprint Ambition and ENI’s four-year investment plan with renewables, helping it to reduce its net scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 80% by 2050.  

 There are still some companies that are not following BP’s lead however, and instead appear to be spending money on advertisements that suggest actions towards sustainability are taking place, without evidencing any. 

 The clear dividing lines between companies in the industry will soon enough widen into a ‘them’ and ‘us’ rift, with those who are transparent about their role in the energy transition, and those who are not.  

 Whilst progressive companies continue to make changes, we remain optimistic that new blood will realise that there is no better time to enter transitioning energy companies.