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BP to move Lower 48 onshore headquarters from Houston to Denver

BP plc plans to move the headquarters of its Lower 48 onshore business from the traditional U.S. energy hub of Houston to Denver in the first quarter of 2018, calling the new home "a natural fit" for a business with significant assets in the Rocky Mountains.

The international integrated oil and gas company described Denver as "an important energy hub of the future" and said the move will bring it closer to its significant asset base in the Rocky Mountains.

"In some ways, this is a homecoming for us," said David Lawler, CEO of BP Lower 48, noting that many of BP's legacy companies were once headquartered in Denver. "With two thirds of our operated oil and natural gas production and proved reserves in the Rockies, world-class universities nearby and a wealth of industry expertise in the region, Denver is a logical — and strategic place for us to be and a natural fit for our business."

BP said the Denver office will open with at least 200 employees, including the CEO and executive leadership team, with additional staff to come. The company said much of its presence in Houston would stay. "Houston will remain a large and important center for our business, and we have no plans to change that," Lawler said. "The same is true for Oklahoma City, which will remain a key hub for managing our assets in the Mid-Continent region."

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Denver-based trade group Western Energy Alliance, said BP's announcement is "great news" for the region and the company. "With their large presence in the Rocky Mountains, it makes sense for them to have an office in Denver," she told S&P Global Market Intelligence. "When companies have a large presence in the Rockies, they better serve those assets by being in Denver because they're closer to the issues. Our issues are so unique in the West because of all the federal lands, and we have a wealth of resources here in Denver. There are so many synergies that it just makes sense."

Sgamma said the move also shows BP's interest in successfully exploiting its Rocky Mountain holdings. "I think that's a good indication of their seriousness and the value they place on the Rockies assets," she said.

Calls and emails to the Greater Houston Partnership were not returned.