The rapid change away from "functional" E&P organisations towards "Asset-based" ones has helped deliver enormous improvements in upstream profitability via de-layering, cost transparency, team integration and alliancing with external providers.

Without these changes the upstream industry would not be facing the future with the self-confidence and growth aspirations which are evident worldwide, both in mature areas such as the North Sea and new regions such as the Caspian.

Prima facie, the decentralising and delayering which are vital to the success of a move to an Asset-based structure carry the risk that a company’s good intentions towards environmental practice will not be delivered in actual operations. However this paper, drawing heavily from BP Exploration’s experience over the past three years, argues that this need not be so. Indeed, provided some key principles are followed, there is real potential for higher environmental performance, largely through liberating the talents and energies of the workforce.

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