Statoil announced Thursday it plans to drop “oil” from its name. The Norwegian company said its new name, “Equinor,” combines the root of words like equality and equilibrium with “nor,” a nod at its Scandinavian roots.
“Looking toward the next 50 years, reflecting on the global energy transition and how we are developing as a broad energy company, it has become natural to change our name,” said president and CEO Eldar Sætre in a statement. “The name Equinor captures our heritage and values, and what we aim to be in the future.”
That future target is to be a diverse energy company with ambitions in both fossil fuels and clean energy. The company said it will direct 15 to 20 percent of its total investments to “profitable renewables and low-carbon solutions” by 2030.
The dual-pronged strategy is a safe bet for a company that in a Business Intelligence Outlook report last year presented an uncertain view of the global energy future. “Possible future outcomes for global energy demand and fuel mix…vary significantly, depending on many interacting and very uncertain factors,” wrote Eirik Wærness, the company’s senior vice president and chief economist.
In March of last year, Statoil outlined a climate strategy through 2030 that relied on continued oil production but broadened the major’s investment in renewable technologies. The company said it aimed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent per barrel by 2030. It also said it would reduce annual emissions from its operations by 3 million metric tons by the same year. By 2020, the company will funnel a quarter of its research money into “new energy solutions,” such as offshore wind, carbon capture and energy efficiency.
In its 2017 outlook, the company envisioned three possible future energy scenarios: Reform, Renewal and Rivalry. In the first, market forces and policymaking drive markets. In the second, cooperation among countries compels action against climate change. The last “portrays a multipolar world where populist, nationalist, inward-looking and short-term priorities direct policymaking, where climate skepticism runs high and where disorder, conflict and power struggle apply at the expense of cooperation and trust.”
In each, Statoil-now-Equinor projects a different mix of fuel demand, with renewables taking the largest slice of demand under the “Renewal” scenario and coal, oil and gas dominating the “Rivalry” scenario.
As the company formerly known as Statoil hedges its bets on a cleaner future energy mix, oil-rich Norway is doing the same. In November, the Norwegian Central Bank proposed divesting its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund of oil and gas. That would rid the country of $35 billion in fossil fuel stocks. The president of sustainable investing nonprofit Ceres, Mindy Lubber, told Bloomberg the idea was “a shot heard around the world.”
It was apparently also heard at home.
“The world is changing, and so is Statoil,” said Jon Erik Reinhardsen, the company’s board chair, in a statement on the name change. “The biggest transition our modern-day energy systems have ever seen is underway, and we aim to be at the forefront of this development.”
The rebrand is just the latest in a line of oil and gas majors re-evaluating a fossil-fuel-only portfolio.
Statoil's name change won’t be formalized until a May 15 shareholder vote. The Norwegian government also gets a say as the entity that holds majority share, at 67 percent. A veterinarian in Norway currently holds the name “Equinor.” But as several outlets report, she plans to change it soon.