Alaska’s oil fields are well known for being a large part of BP’s past. Today, after 30 years of production, they are fading and the company is looking to Russia and the deep waters of the US Gulf of Mexico for new supplies. But having an association with Alaska’s North Slope, which accounts for 2.5 per cent of BP’s production, may become an increasingly relevant point in the selection of a candidate to succeed Lord Browne when he steps down as chief executive at the end of 2008.

At least two of the five successor candidates have done stints in Anchorage, BP’s Alaska headquarters, as did Lord Browne.

Lord Browne was in North America in a number of roles between 1969 and 1983, dealing with exploration and production. They included stints in Anchorage, New York, San Francisco, London and Canada.

John Manzoni, who joined BP in 1983 and spent the early years of his career in the North Sea, was vice-
president of Prudhoe Bay in the mid nineties. Mr Manzoni – who is seen as one of, but not the leading, candidate for Lord Browne’s job – is now head of marketing and refining.

Andrew Inglis – who now looks at new production areas such as Azerbaijan, Angola, Algeria, the Gulf of Mexico and Trinidad – is seen as a dark horse in the race to succeed Lord Browne. He also had his training at BP’s Alaska operations, managing its Kuparuk field from 1994-1996.

Meanwhile, Bob Malone, who may or may not be
a successor candidate, recently took over as head of BP’s US operations. Mr Malone is well aware of the pitfalls of working in Alaska and its pipelines, having dealt with their safety and regulator problems as chief executive of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in the late 1990s.

Tony Hayward, the leading candidate, and Iain Conn, another contender, missed out on Alaska’s winters and spent their time in Latin America, another BP proving ground.

The two may not have had to deal with Alaska’s blizzards, but both their current jobs – as head of exploration and production and head of internal affairs – are unlikely to escape the current storm over its pipelines.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Comments have not been enabled for this article.