Can Norway’s State Oil Company Be A Climate Champion?

Can Norway’s State Oil Company Be A Climate Champion?

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Floating wind turbine in water
March 5, 2019

Norway is pursuing a future rich in fossil energy and climate solutions. Can its oil company, Equinor, reconcile these priorities and continue to reliably finance the country’s expansive social welfare system? Equinor’s clean energy chief weighs in.

Much has been made of Norway’s efforts to address climate change.  The country has set the goal of going carbon neutral by the middle of the century, and generates nearly all of its electricity from hydropower. Norway’s ambitious environmental policies have even transformed the country’s car market, where EVs now account for half of new car sales.

Yet the country remains economically dependent on its fossil fuel industry, which provides key revenue for the government and its generous social welfare programs.

Much of Norway’s fossil fuel wealth comes from a single company, state-controlled Equinor, which has produced oil and gas from North Sea wells for half a century and is now diversifying beyond fossil fuels. Equinor opened the world’s first commercial floating offshore wind farm in 2017, and is developing a carbon capture and storage business.

Stephen Bull, Equinor’s senior vice president for Wind and Low Carbon Development, discusses Equinor’s efforts beyond fossil fuels and how the Norwegian government, which is environmentally progressive yet dependent on oil wealth, is driving the company. He also talks about the inherent conflict of interest when a fossil fuel company pursues non-fossil energy alternatives.

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