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Investing in the world's energy transition

Statoil's first cash holdings didn’t even fill a small cigar box. Today, Equinor is an international energy company and invests heavily to achieve its ambitions of net zero emissions by 2050.

The world is in the middle of a climate crisis – and countries and cities worldwide have set clear climate targets by 2050.

At the same time, the world is in an energy crisis, where secured supply and access to affordable energy are both high on the energy policy agenda. The climate targets are nevertheless a long-term driver – and to achieve them, entire energy systems must be restructured.

This will require enormous changes, with new technology, new value chains and large investments.

Torgrim ReitanEquinor CFO
Torgrim Reitan, CFO Equinor. Photo

There is no exact estimate of how much this will cost. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the annual energy investments globally must be increased from $2 trillion a year to $5 trillion a year by 2030.

These are huge sums.

To succeed, income from oil and gas will play an important role. But how?

Cigar box
50 years ago, Statoil's cash holdings had room in this small cigar box.
Photo: Einar Aslaksen

From a two-person business to an international energy company

1972: Let’s go 50 years back in time. Marit Falck (1925–2020) rushes through Stavanger's streets. She is going to a job interview at Statoil, a recently established company based in a city apartment. The boss himself, Arve Johnsen, opens the door.

Then again, he’s also the company's only employee.

And then there were two employees.

Marit becomes a secretary with financial responsibility – and on her first day, she sets up a cash holding consisting of a few notes in a cigar box she has brought from home.

That covers the office furniture that Statoil needs in its early days. But the investments will quickly become much, much larger.

It is known that there are assets out there in the North Sea. However, no one can imagine how big the profits will actually be.

The assets take Statoil from a two-person company with a cigar box as a cashbox to today – where Equinor is the largest company on the Oslo Stock Exchange and an international energy company.

But what now?

The transition requires huge investments

“The power that made us a great energy nation is the same one that will contribute to the world's energy transition. By 2050, Equinor's ambition is to cut emissions to reach net zero while at the same time supplying the energy the world needs. To achieve this, we must invest heavily, and we are increasing investments in renewable energy,” says Reitan.

The ambition is for more than 30 percent of Equinor's gross investments to go to renewable and low-carbon solutions by 2025. By 2030, this will apply to at least half of the investments.

Leading the way in the green transition

To drive the transformation forward, someone must be willing to take leadership.

That is a position Equinor wants to take.

“We have big ambitions. Equinor is increasing the pace of change to be a leading company in the green transition. By 2030, we will be a leading supplier of energy and low-carbon solutions, a global leader in offshore wind, and a European leader in carbon capture and storage,” summarizes Reitan.

It would not have been possible without the 50-year history and the great assets that Equinor manages.

"Equinor's solid financial muscle gives us flexibility in financing large renewable developments. That, combined with technology and experience from large and complex energy projects, enables us to undertake large projects and contribute to changing the energy systems.”

Johan Sverdrup. Photo: Daniel Ashby

The oil and gas companies are rallying around green investments

Speeding up the green transition with the help of investments is also one of the objectives of The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). Behind the initiative are 12 member companies from the oil and gas industry – including Equinor. OGCI is led by Bjørn Otto Sverdrup, the former head of sustainability at Equinor.

Projects that make a difference

As an example, Reitan highlights the world’s largest offshore wind farm – Dogger Bank – which Equinor is now building together with partners.

"Dogger Bank will have the capacity to provide electricity to more than five million British homes, which will really make a difference," he says.

The financial size also means that Equinor has risk capital – which is crucial when new technology and value chains are to be developed.

"Our ability to invest in an early phase, both in projects and companies, means that more technology is developed and can be scaled up to industrial solutions. Perhaps we are contributing to exactly the technology that is needed to cope with the energy transition," Reitan says.

Read more about Equinor's offshore wind projects in the UK

This is one of many stories from our first 50 years. It is also part of the story of how we will succeed with the energy transition.

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