Interview with Alessandro Antonioli, Head of Country, Offshore Wind, BP
Can you start by telling us a bit about your background and current role?
I’m a structural engineer by background. The first part of my career was spent designing power plants in Europe. I’ve had a range of commercial roles in BP too, working in aviation, crude oil trading business and doing M&A. I joined the Renewables Growth team in 2020 and am now part of the offshore wind team vertical covering the Nordics.
Can you give some background to BP’s business in Norway over the last years?
Our presence in the country became prominent in 1970 when oil was discovered on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. BP was one of the first operators to export know-how from other basins to Norway, helping to build up the nascent oil & gas industry. We now partner with the Aker Group through Aker BP – which is one of the biggest independent oil producers in Europe. We are also one of the most widespread jet fuel suppliers in Norway and produce the Castrol performance lubricant brand that supplies motorists, wind farms and industry across the country.
Now BP is expanding further into electric vehicles through the supply of battery coolant fluids, transmission fluids and services for cars and motorbikes. A more recent development is looking at Norway as a very central hub for renewable energy generation. BP can play a key role, leveraging on more than a hundred years of experience in offshore engineering, to develop the offshore wind industry. We are already looking at how we can integrate offshore wind to hydrogen and synthetic fuels, leveraging the future North Sea offshore power network.
What’s your vision for the development of offshore wind in the North Sea?
I’m very optimistic! The North Sea has the most promising basin in the world for the development of offshore wind, with wind speeds getting up to 11 meters per second, and it has experienced suppliers. In addition, neighbouring countries are working to decarbonize their energy systems too, so we can have a concentrated source of clean energy at the centre of Europe. If we manage to gather those resources and distribute them efficiently across the continent, we can build a new industry that will create jobs and accelerate our path to carbon neutrality as aimed for by Repower EU.
Where would you like to see increased cooperation between Norway and the UK in the development of renewable energy?
We can certainly optimize the logistics and supply chain to better serve the offshore wind sector. I’d like to see more open collaboration across the supply chain with more Norwegian companies working in the UK, and know-how from the UK exported to Norway.
Collaboration to build more power Interconnectors will be very important to stabilize the power network and ensure that electricity is flowing in multiple directions to deal with intermittency and ensure a more stable power price going forward. We have seen what happened recently in Europe with the gas price spiking which lifted the electricity price unexpectedly five- or even six-fold in some countries. A distributed network would give a more predictable power price, which is good for consumers and for business.
I hope we will also see a shared infrastructure for hydrogen and repurposing of gas infrastructure for hydrogen.
Last but not least, together we can grow the new generations of talent for the green economy. For example we could coordinate in creating Centres of Excellence, skills exchange and ensuring that universities have programs that are suitable for the jobs of the future. There are great universities in the UK and in Norway already at the forefront of engineering, sustainability and environmental sciences that should be up for the challenge!
Are you looking to create new partnerships in Norway?
Certainly yes and it’s in BP’s DNA to foster long lasting collaborations. Its one of our stated aims to involve as many companies as possible in the energy transition so that it is equitable and fair and not just benefiting large players, but also small- and medium-sized enterprises. In particular, we are looking to involve companies with a technology edge and to support their international growth.
Why has BP joined the British Norwegian Chamber of Commerce?
The BNCC is a fantastic platform for BP to engage with Norwegian companies and to strengthen the link between our two countries. BP has operated in Norway for many years, delivering huge benefits to both countries. We have always promoted the dialogue between the UK and Norway, even more now that the energy transition’s acceleration depends on multilateral collaboration. BP has a new purpose to not just to help provide energy, but also to help the world to decarbonize and to address the energy transition. I am confident we can have a very constructive dialogue between the two countries on this important topic.