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BP puts US wind farms up for sale

BP said Wednesday it has put its US wind energy business up for sale aspart of its ongoing efforts to focus on more profitable oil and gasoperations as it continues to pay for its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

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BP, which once referred to itself as "Beyond Petroleum", has built oneof the biggest US wind businesses over the last six years and the assets arereportedly worth about $1.5 billion.

The move follows a decision in late 2011 to exit its global solarbusiness after 40 years due to a lack of significant returns from theindustry.

In 2007, BP also ditched plans for a $500 million project to build theworld's first carbon capture and storage power plant in Scotland.

"For BP, this effort represents another example of prudent and activemanagement of our global portfolio," a BP spokesman said. "It is part of acontinuing effort to become a more focused oil and gas company andre-position the company for sustainable growth."

The spokesman declined to comment on the potential value of the US windassets but said that any divestment will be "the subject of attractiveoffers."

BP CEO Bob Dudley, who briefly led BP's alternative energy activities in2000, said in 2010 that BP's US wind business was "successful" and wouldcontinue to grow.

The US wind assets being marketed include BP's interests in 16 operatingwind farms in nine states, with combined generating capacity of around 2,600MW of renewable power.

In addition, the company is looking to sell a portfolio of projects atvarious stages of development, including around 2,000 MW of wind farms thatare nearly "shovel ready."

Last month, BP withdrew an application for its Pratt County wind farm inKansas on the grounds that the approval process was too complex and costly.

BIOFUELS FOCUS

Since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, BP has sold more than $38 billionof assets in a major downsizing effort, shedding half of its upstreaminstallations and pipelines and a third of its producing wells.

Although BP has already met its divestment target to help pay fordamages from the spill, the company still faces additional payouts to settlethe remaining US claims over the disaster.

A BP spokesman denied the move to sell the US wind assets marks an exitfrom alternative energy, citing the company's "valuable" ethanol productionfacilities in Brazil and the UK, and its research programs into new biofueltechnologies in the US and the UK.

BP made a commitment in 2005 to invest $8 billion over 10 years onalternative energy, a promise it has already met ahead of schedule, mostlywith investments in ethanol biofuel projects.

By the end of 2011, BP had invested around $7 billion of that total,with more than half of the total going on US biofuel and wind projects.

BP said it has no plans to give specific future investment targets forits biofuels business, adding that is it investing "hundreds of millions ofdollars" in its ventures.

Late last year, BP announced plans for a $350 million expansion of itsethanol processing capacity at Tropical, one of its sugarcane processingventures in Brazil.

But months earlier, BP ditched plans to build a commercial-scalecellulosic ethanol plant in Florida on the grounds that its other projectswere more "attractive".

BP also continues to invest in innovative companies that are developingefficient technologies, with applications in both renewable and conventionalenergy production, the company spokesman said.

In January, BP predicted that renewable energy will be the fastestgrowing form of fuels in the coming years, reaching a 6% share of globalprimary energy by 2030, up from 2% in 2011.

--Robert Perkins, robert_perkins@platts.com --Christine Forster, christine_forster@platts.com--Edited by Jonathan Fox, jonathan_fox@platts.com