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BP to sell US wind farms as it sticks to oil and gas

BP's one-time drive to move "Beyond Petroleum" is sputtering to a halt after the FTSE 100 giant put its US wind power business up for sale for an estimated $1.5bn (£990m).

A month after BP's chief executive, Bob Dudley, said he had "thrown in the towel" in solar, the company is trying to sell its interests in 16 US wind farms in a move that would see it exit wind power altogether.

The sale would leave BP's renewable energy division – once a key hope for growing the company – with a handful of biofuels businesses and low-key research projects. A BP spokesman said: "BP has decided to market for sale our US wind energy business as part of a continuing effort to become a more focused on oil and gas company and reposition the company for sustainable growth into the future.

"For BP this effort represents another example of prudent and active management of our global portfolio, consistent with our pledge to unlock more value for shareholders."

The focus on BP's oil and gas business represents a significant change in strategy since Lord Browne, who was chief executive from 1995 to 2007, pledged to rebrand the company as "Beyond Petroleum" by moving heavily into alternative forms of energy.

But the company now believes it can make more money focusing on its traditional business of finding and extracting hydrocarbons. BP also abandoned plans in 2008 to invest in carbon capture and storage, a fledgling technology that seeks to reduce emissions from coal and gas-fired power plants by collecting the smoke and funnelling it to underground storage containers.

The sale of BP's wind business has also been motivated, in part, by the company's need to sell about $38bn of assets to help finance the costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

BP declined to comment on the likely price of the US wind business but said it would consider "attractive offers".