Climate protesters forced BP to temporarily shut down its London headquarters today, the first day in office for the oil and gas company's new CEO Bernard Looney. 

BP said more than 100 Greenpeace activists attempted to place 500 solar panels in front of BP's building in St James' Square in central London, and blocked the entrances with oil barrels. 

Police said they had arrested nine people after the protest. 

Greenpeace spokesman Stefano Gelmini said several activists had chained themselves to the oil barrels. 

BP said chief executive Looney, who was visiting staff in Germany today, shared the "deep concerns" of the climate protesters and understood their frustration and anger.

The 49-year-old Irishman will set out his vision for BP's response to the low carbon energy transition in a speech next week where he is expected to unveil deeper commitments to reduce the company's carbon emissions. 

BP said Mr Looney "hopes that what he has to say then will give people a sense that we get it and are very serious about working to address the problem." 

BP has faced growing pressure from climate activists and investors to meet to the 2015 Paris climate goals to battle climate change.