Shareholders in Statoil have approved the board’s proposal to rebrand as Equinor as it diversifies away from fossil fuels and the company’s shares will be quoted on the Oslo Bors as EQNR.
The government, which owns a 67-per-cent stake of Norway’s largest company, is backing the rebranding exercise.
Statoil chief executive Eldar Saetre has said the name change is expected to cost up to €26 million.
The oil and gas giant said the name change reflected a move last year to become a “broad energy” provider, channelling up to 15-20 per cent of annual capital investment into “new energy solutions” by 2030, mostly offshore wind projects.
While Statoil’s profits have grown, its hydrocarbon business has come under increased scrutiny after the Paris climate agreement.
And the renaming exercise was dismissed as meaningless by the environmental group Greenpeace.
Last August, when Statoil drilled at Korpfjell, the northernmost field in the Barents Sea, Greenpeace said the drilling showed that Norway was not as green as the image it tried to project.
“Same sh*t, new wrapping,” said head of Greenpeace Norway Truls Gulowsen. “Statoil removes ‘oil’ from the name and says it will put more focus on renewables. At the same time, they send new rigs to vulnerable pristine nature areas, both in Norway and at other places in the world. If Statoil’s ambition is to become a greener company, they would need to drop the worst oil projects in the Arctic and other places.”
But none of this was addressed in the rebranding exercise.
“A name with ‘oil’ as a component would increasingly be a disadvantage. None of our competitors has that. It served us really well for 50 years, I don’t think it will be the best name for the next 50 years,” said Saetre.
The new name was meant to attract younger people so they see the other aspects of the giant firm’s business, including renewable energy, he said.
Technology students reportedly became less interested in working with fossil fuels because of environmental considerations and after oil prices crashed in 2014.
Statoil ranked 15th in an annual survey published this month of Norway’s most attractive employers, according to the karrierestart.no careers website and the firm Evidente.
In 2013, Statoil came first.
“Students who answered the survey after the name change found Statoil to be between 5 per cent and 10 per cent more attractive as an employer,” Arne Kvalsvik at Evidente told the media.
“It’s likely that Statoil’s name change will have a positive impact on its reputation going forward.”
Statoil has enormous oil and gas operations. Picture credit: YouTube