One of the world’s largest oil companies, Statoil, is scrubbing the word “oil” from its name to reflect a growing focus on renewable energy. The new name will be Equinor.
“The world is changing, and so is Statoil,” said Board Chair Jon Reinhardsen in a Thursday morning statement. “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 new name combines “equi,” the starting point for words like equality and equilibrium, and “nor,” reflecting its Norwegian origin, the company explained. Reinhardsen added that this new name supports the “high value and low carbon strategy we outlined last year.”
Norway’s state-controlled oil company had announced it would triple or quadruple investment in clean energy by 2030. It already operates the worlds first floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Scotland.
Norway is also the country shifting the fasted toward electric vehicles. Last year its parliament established a non-binding target that all new cars should be electric by 2025, and its $1 trillion sovereign-wealth fund is considering divesting from oil and gas stocks.
Statoil CEO Eldar Saetre acknowledged in 2017 that “a peak in oil demand” is coming, probably between the mid-2020s and the mid-2030s, and eventually oil “will be a shrinking business.”
The company’s new name will be put to a shareholder vote in May. But since the company is two-thirds owned by the state, and the Norwegian government has already okayed the rebranding, the new name would appear to be a done deal.
Statoil’s name change follows on the heels of last year’s rebranding of Denmark’s state-owned Dong Energy as Ørsted. That move erased any link to the original name — Danish Oil and Natural Gas — as the company sells off its fossil fuel businesses to become a clean energy leader. Ørsted is the world’s largest provider of offshore wind farms; it won a German power auction last year without needing any subsidies.
Equinor will no doubt become an offshore wind powerhouse. But “the Norwegian continental shelf will remain the backbone of our company,” explained CEO Saetre, “and we will use our Norwegian heritage in our positioning as we continue growing internationally within both oil, gas and renewable energy.”