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What does a small cigar box have to do with the energy transition?

Photo of cigar box on desk

50 years ago, Statoil’s entire cash balance was kept in a small cigar box in a drawer. Today, we’re an international energy company, and our reserves ​​will help us achieve our ambitions of net zero emissions in 2050.

Marit Falck (1925—2020) hurried with light steps through the streets of Stavanger. She was on her way to a job interview with Statoil, a newly-established company located in an apartment in Lagårdsveien in downtown Stavanger.

The boss himself, Arve Johnsen, opened the door. He was the company’s only employee.
And minutes later, Marit was to become the second employee, as financial secretary.

Although she had half a year at business school, she emphasised that she didn’t have any accounting experience. Nevertheless, on her first day, she devised a system for the company’s finances. The system consisted of a few banknotes, a couple of stamps and a money box, which in actual fact was a small cigar box she had brought from home.

Arve Johnsen, CEO
Statoil's first CEO and employee, Arve Johnsen, on his way to the office at Lagårdsveien 80 in Stavanger. Employee number two was Marit Falck, and it was she who brought the cigar box Statoil's first CEO and employee, Arve Johnsen, on his way to the office at Lagårdsveien 80 in Stavanger. Employee number two was Marit Falck, and it was she who brought the cigar box to the office.

That was 50 years ago, and the first investments may not have been very large: some office chairs and a meeting table. But the investments were to grow very rapidly. Although it was well known that the North Sea contained valuable resources, no one had foreseen how big this would become. Statoil went from being a two-person company with all its cash in a small cigar box to becoming the largest company on the Oslo Stock Exchange and an international energy company.

Statoil was established to ensure that the assets from the Norwegian continental shelf would benefit the whole of society, and the investments over the years have yielded solid returns. Norway has become a wealthy nation. But what now?

The climate crisis unites nations, companies and individuals in a common effort the world has never seen before. The natural resources have given Norway something even more important than money: knowledge, experience and power to develop new energy and new industry in collaboration with others.

The power that made tiny Norway a large energy nation is the same power that will contribute to the world’s energy transition. Equinor’s ambition is to continue supplying society with energy with a lower carbon footprint and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Marit’s tiny cigar box in the Stavanger apartment is therefore an important symbol for us. A symbol of what the right investments can mean for a society, both at home and abroad.

The first 50 years have passed. Now the clock is ticking towards 2050.

To get there. Together.