Early April Fool's Joke? Statoil Rebrands Itself as Equinor
By Andy Rowell
First came BP, which went from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. Then Denmark's Dong Energy changed its name to Orsted, to mark its departure from oil and gas. Then earlier this year Shell announced it was morphing from an oil company into an integrated energy company.
And now, the Norwegian company Statoil is proposing to change its name to "Equinor." The rebranding exercise—or what some may call greenwashing exercise—will cost as much as 250 million kroner or $32 million.
The name change, says Statoil, "supports the company's strategy and development as a broad energy company." The name Equinor, in case you are wondering, is formed according to Statoil "by combining 'equi,' the starting point for words like equal, equality and equilibrium, and "nor," signaling a company proud of its Norwegian origin, and who wants to use this actively in its positioning."
Despite the fancy name, it transpired that it originated from an Oslo veterinary practice specializing in horses, but somehow it must have resonated with the oil company's spin doctors. They have even made a slick video to promote the name change.
"The world is changing, and so is Statoil," said Jon Erik Reinhardsen, chair of the board of Statoil. "The biggest transition our modern-day energy systems have ever seen is underway, and we aim to be at the forefront of this development. Our strategy remains firm. The name Equinor reflects ongoing changes and supports the always safe, high value and low carbon strategy we outlined last year."
The company's CEO Eldar Sætre added, "Looking towards 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. The name Equinor captures our heritage and values, and what we aim to be in the future."
"I don't expect Equinor to be love at first sight for everyone," he added. "Give it a little time, let it mature. I feel very confident that this is right and important for the company to do."
The company's hierarchy will propose the new name to shareholders at Statoil's AGM on May 15. The Norwegian government, which is a majority shareholder in the company, supports the proposal and will vote in favor of the resolution.
Not everyone was convinced. As Bloomberg reported, "Oil majors aren't famed for their pranks, but Statoil ASA had analysts checking it wasn't April Fool's Day when it announced a new name that turned out to have been acquired from an Oslo veterinary practice specializing in horses." Bloomberg reported that the SpareBank 1 Markets analyst Teodor Sveen Nilsen said in a note to clients, "We checked the calendar. It's not April 1."
Reaction on social media was mixed, too, as people picked up on the origins of the word: "Equinor sounds like a princess on a horse in Game of Thrones," one Twitter user said. "Equi" is the genitive singular in Latin for "horse," noted another.
Statoil is just repeating history. Years ago, a book on countering corporate greenwash, edited by Eveline Lubbers, noted that BP's "rebranding was part of an effort to portray BP as an energy company, not just an oil company." Critics noted that the rebranding, which cost BP $200 million and was designed by Ogilvy & Mather, was a greenwashing exercise. Years later BP remains predominantly an oil and gas company.
Statoil's rebranding looks like greenwashing, too. Buried deep in the company's press release last week, Statoil stated that it "will develop long-term value on the Norwegian continental shelf, deepen in core areas and develop new growth options internationally …. Statoil is building a material industrial position within profitable renewable energy, and expects to invest 15-20% of total capex in new energy solutions by 2030." Put another way, in twelve year's time, some 80 percent of the company's capex will still be oil and gas.
Given the climate crisis and need to disinvest from oil and gas, this is hardly a revolutionary shift. So the company may be called "Equinor," but it will still essentially be Statoil to its core. So it really does look like an early April Fool's joke.
World's Biggest Investment Fund Considers Divesting From Fossil Fuels https://t.co/X9Ynl45yTZ @GreenCollarGuy @350 @billmckibben— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1511060103.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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