Global energy giant bp are the latest business to sign up for the Northern Echo’s Level Up campaign. Business Editor Mike Hughes met Louise Kingham to find out more.

WITH three major projects being launched in Teesside at the heart of the UK’s green energy economy the company, which operates in more than 70 countries, has chosen our Level Up campaign as the perfect partner to gets its messages across about the company’s remarkable transition to net zero and the long-term effects that will have on the Teesside economy.

The company wants to build a gas-fired power station with carbon capture – Net Zero Teesside Power directly linked to the bp led Northern Endurance Partnership’s ground-breaking East Coast Cluster plan for Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), as well as one plant producing green hydrogen and another producing blue hydrogen.

All three projects will help transform Teesside and the wider North East as Mayor Ben Houchen’s masterplan around Teesworks and the Freeport takes shape.

Louise Kingham, bp’s Senior vice president, Europe and head of country, UK, said our Level Up campaign reflected bp’s focus on the importance of people as well as businesses.

Read more: BP plans Teesside jobs boost at powerplant and hydrogen projects

“It’s important for us to come and listen and learn about how we can have the most positive impacts for people as much as for projects and the infrastructure we want to build, develop and operate here,” she said.

“That’s why it’s important to be part of the Level Up partnership, and we’re really grateful that we’ve been invited to be included.

“By getting to know people you see where connections can be made and the number of dots we are able to join together from technology and supply chain to education, housing and community.

“That’s how we’ll be able to do this in a smart way and how we can collectively make a difference.

“We’ve already got so much industry that has been successful here and has wonderful heritage over such a long time, but we can come in and give that industry a bright and exciting future because we can help them to build sustainable businesses as we take the carbon out of their processes using CCUS technology and hydrogen and learn together how to operate them into the future as efficiently as possible.

“I am genuinely energised by that prospect because it’s transformational and it hasn’t been done before, so everybody, not just bp but all of us can go on this journey and tackle the climate challenges we are facing.”

Louise also knows that the multitude of projects being talked about across the North East will be judged by many people on the jobs they create now and the ones that become more certain for the next generation, because bp is making a long-term investment in our futures, not just dropping in for a few years.

She says: “For us it starts with design and construction and goes right through to operating the project, with all of the ecosystem that exists around technical functions and activities.

“In hydrogen we’re building an entire new business, so we need all types of jobs in as you would in any company starting something so far-reaching.

“There will also be jobs in innovation and R&D because that never stands still - we’ll innovate with this generation and then we’ll need to keep it moving on and on.

The Northern Echo: Louise Kingham talks to Business Editor Mike HughesLouise Kingham talks to Business Editor Mike Hughes

“I think over the lifetime of all the projects bp wants to do across Teesside, you’re looking at thousands of jobs, and as we go into FEED (front end engineering and design contracts) on Net Zero Teesside Power and we start working with our supply chain companies we will really understand the resources we have already and what needs to be brought in.”

One key resource every large-scale development needs is backing from local and central government. Without their permissions, grants and a supportive understanding of what is being planned, ground would not be broken and jobs would stay on a wishlist. That support comes in different forms at different stages, and has been unwavering for bp, says Louise.

“The technology which relates to the net zero component - so the carbon capture utilisation and storage, the hydrogen plants - those are new things for which some financial support from government is necessary to make the economics stack up alongside the investment we will provide.

“That is important and we’re in the throes at the moment of discussing what those business models are going to look like and hopefully within the course of the next few months that will be decided.

“The support on a regional basis goes deeper and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and his colleagues have been incredibly supportive in helping us navigate our way around and be part of this exciting story.

“That might be about the land development and those opportunities, or working with local colleges and thinking about the skills pipeline that we’re going to need, or vocalising the support for the fact that bp wants to come and invest.

“And I know that is not just for bp – it’s for every investor that wants to come here and work in this remarkable region.

“We’re so pleased we are here and so pleased to be working with The Northern Echo and the Level Up team.”

Business Editor Mike Hughes said: “We’re immensely proud to have bp on board as a full partner in Level Up.

“We always wanted this to be a platform for businesses of every size to tell us their stories and help build a future for the region, and bp will be one of the most influential players for many years to come.

“Louise and I share a goal of genuinely making a difference here and helping people understand what is happening and the opportunities it all brings.

“Just as we have done with the partners who have already signed up and will continue to do with new partners, we will support them however we can and help them get their message across to an online and print audience hungry for news of investment and jobs.”

If you would like to join organisations like bp, Durham County Council, Tees Valley Combined Authority, North East England Chamber of Commerce, Womble Bond Dickinson, Cummins and YouFibre in our Level Up campaign, contact our Head of Partnerships Pete Noble at

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