Statoil Forms Renewable Energy Division, While Oil Industry Struggles With Its Role in Climate Change

Instead of dropping its renewable energy divisions as BP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon have done, Norway-based Statoil is moving in the other direction.

Statoil’s new CEO, Eldar Saetre, is creating a renewable energy division, New Energy Solutions, which reports directly to him. He says the company’s role in addressing climate change will be a priority, and that climate change and a growing demand for clean energy are opening up new business opportunities. 

Statoil CEO

As Norway’s biggest oil company, it operates 70% of the country’s offshore oil and gas production and therefore sees offshore wind as a natural fit. It has modest stakes in five offshore wind projects in the North Sea.

It’s also involved in carbon capture and sequestration and is working on a seaweed to ethanol business.

Oil Industry Can’t Ignore Climate Change

"We recognize and fully acknowledge the climate issues and want to take our part of the responsibility to find solutions," Sætre told Reuters during the largest conference for oil executives, IHS CERAWeek. "We want to be the most carbon efficient oil and gas company out there."

The oil and gas industry should support a carbon tax and should support action on climate change or "risk becoming an industry that neither gets access nor acceptance," he said during his keynote speech.

He touts Norway’s carbon tax of about $65 per ton as responsible for cutting the country’s emissions to half the global average.

While this is notable, Statoil’s promises aren’t. They are mostly around increasing natural gas production as an alternative to coal and eliminate flaring from fracking by 2030.

As are BP and Shell in their calls for carbon taxes, more gas, and more carbon capture and storage. If nothing is done they say, emissions will become unmanageable! 

Meanwhile, they do their level best to prevent any efforts in that direction, such as California’s cap-and-trade program and Governor Inslee’s proposed program in Washington. They are among the biggest campaign donors to Republicans that block all these efforts.

Read our article, Petroleum Front Groups Focus on Pacific Northwest.

Zero Routine Flaring by 2030

Last month, the "Zero Routine Flaring by 2030" initiative launched with 10 oil companies and nine countries signing on. Why it takes 15 years to eliminate a practice they can make money on is beyond me.

And besides Statoil and Shell, the major oil companies are missing.

Flaring is a major contributor to climate change, pumping an additional 350 million tons of carbon (doesn’t count the methane) into the atmosphere every year, according to The World Bank. If it were used to make electricity, it could produce more than is currently consumed in the entire continent of Africa. It also releases toxic chemicals in the air, damaging human health, crops and the environment.

This isn’t the first time oil companies have made this pledge, but they have yet to act on it.

Read our article, Big Oil Prefers to Crush Renewables Rather Than Invest in Them.

Learn more at the New Energy Solutions website:

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