Posted: May 25th, 2022

Detailed information about BP’s history

Accounting in British Petroleum

Scope, Aims, and Objectives

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The research project proposed herein will examine the role of accounting in the past progression and current situation of British Petroleum, the company that came under intense public scrutiny last year due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico (Urbina 2010). In the ensuing year since the accident in the Gulf, however, interest in BP and its internal practices seems to have waned considerably, reducing the likelihood that useful and practical regulations in accounting and strategy practices for the industry can be developed from this spill. The aims of the study are to provide an in-depth analysis of accounting procedures at BP, how they affected/were affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill, and how these accounting practices and adjustments compare to industry standards and regulations. The objective will be to determine the strength of BP as a company and the rigor of its internal accounting procedures, in order to form a more accurate view of the company’s current position and its future potential in the oil and gas industry.

Chapter Breakdown

The first chapter will contain detailed information about BP’s history in the first decade of the twentieth century through its rise to become one of the largest petroleum extractors and refiners in the world (BP 2011). This will be utilized to demonstrate basic principles and procedures in the company, impacting on the implications of the accounting assessment performed on BP. The second chapter will take a more detailed look at the company’s current position, including an assessment of basic quantitative figures as well as including a brief qualitative assessment. Key ratios, asset assessments, and other accounting elements will be calculated and presented as part of an internal and comparative analysis.

Chapters three and four of the research project will focus on the management of the company, with chapter three detailing the accounting management of the firm and chapter four turning to look at financial management. In some ways these can be seen as the upstream and downstream sides of the same issue, though there are also significant differences in the two areas of management and their impacts on British Petroleum and the oil industry at large. The personnel and procedures that have been put in place at the company in terms of providing accurate accounting information and ensuring compliance with legislation and regulations will be assessed alongside current issues the company is facing, in order to determine if there is any correlation or potential causal relationship that exists between these elements of the company. Financial strategies employed by the company will also be examined in light of overall business strategies that are apparent in the company, in order to determine how financial strategy and external actions are linked and if this linkage might have contributed to or allowed for the Deepwater Horizon accident to occur. The fifth and final chapter of this research project will present a detailed summary of findings, including a SWOT analysis of BP and conclusions regarding the general state of the company and its likely potential in the near-term and further ahead in the future.

Literature Review

An examination of valuation and accounting practices in the oil industry has raised some serious questions about the industry and its impact on total global trade in the past decade (Misund et al. 2008; Nandha & Faff 2008). The Deepwater Horizon spill specifically has raised questions about reporting practices and financial incentives affecting the oil industry, as well (Flournoy 2011; Post 2011). Both of these issues will be examined in the research project.

Steps and Milestones

Research has already commenced into the background of the company, its current corporate structure and governance plan, and in providing a comprehensive overview of its financial position based on published figures and ratios. This will greatly assist in the completion of all other necessary research and writing in the coming weeks. After receiving approval of the research project and its scope and objectives, the next major milestone will be the collection of relevant data and published literature regarding the issues involved in the research; this collection of information should be completed within three days of receiving project approval. The review of this information will take approximately one week, during which extensive note-taking and preliminary writing will also take place. Supplemental information will be sought as necessary to ensure that all angles and details are covered in the final project. Composition of the final research project will begin approximately two weeks after initial project approval is received, with a final draft produced one week later for review. Emendations will be made as required in the days immediately following return of the reviewed and corrected/annotated research project.


Research into BP’s accounting practices will help shed some light on one of the largest and most influential companies currently operating. It is hoped that this research project can become a part of this increased understanding.


BP. (2011). Our History. Accessed 21 September 2011.

Flournoy, R. (2011). Three Meta-Lessons Government and Industry Should Learn from the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster and Why They Will Not. Boston Environmental Affairs Law Review 38(2).

Misund, B.; Asche, F. & Osmundsen, P. (2008). Industry upheaval and valuation: Empirical evidence from the international oil and gas industry. The International Journal of Accounting 43(4): 398-424.

Nandha, M. & Faff, R. (2008). Does oil move equity prices? A global view. Energy Economics 30(3): 986-97.

Post, J. (2011). The role of fiduciary law and trust in the twenty-first century. Boston University Law Review 91.

Urbina, I. (2010). Documents show early worries about safety of rig. Accessed 21 September 2011.

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