The promises of Industry transformation

Sustainability has become everyone's responsibility. It is true in all sectors.

Interview of Bente Hovland and Hilde Røed, both working in the Sustainability Unit at Statoil.

As an oil & gas company, what is your approach to sustainability?
Fundamental changes are happening in the oil and gas industry. We face new challenges, such as pressure on margins, changing patterns of energy supply and consumption, geopolitical instability and rising climate change concerns. In this changing context, we are pursuing a strategy to deliver a long-term vision: being one of the leaders in our industry that is shaping the future of energy.
As a large producer of oil and gas, and therefore a significant emitter of greenhouse gases, we can and must contribute to providing more energy with lower missions. Statoil has been involved in Sustainability for many decades. Last year, the Group identified two main pillars to focus on: to create lasting local value for communities and to be recognized as the most carbon efficient oil and gas producer.
To that aim, we conduct active engagement and dialogue with governments, local authorities and communities. We believe that creating value can only be achieved through working closely with our stakeholders and understanding their concerns and expectations. In a complex ecosystem, multiple perspectives and concerted efforts from many sectors are needed to move forward.
Every year we publish a sustainability report which highlights our environmental and social performance. If we do not have all the answers towards a green shift, we know that transparency, external trust and visibility are essential to support our efforts. Knowing the key points and success factors is important to adapt and deliver more energy with less emissions.
In 2015, Statoil joined the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a voluntary, CEO-led grouping that aims to accelerate and guide the industry’s shift towards a low carbon world. The company engaged in this type of collaboration to enable the entire industry to share and contribute with solutions.

Did you approach lead to adapt your internal set-up? How did your teams embrace this new vision?

 Our set-up is fully in line with the Top Management’s ambitions. At Statoil, the Corporate Sustainability Unit is responsible for the implementation of our sustainability strategy. It was established about 3 years ago. This unit reports directly to the head of Global Strategy and Business Development, with the support of other corporate functions and business areas. The sustainability department sits at the heart of the strategy function of the business – where the future of the company is shaped. 

Safety and sustainability management is an integral part of our overall management system, which includes our policies and requirements, operating model and governance. Our objective is to transform strong ambitions into concrete actions and achieve real results. Integrating a new mindset into a business strategy takes time, but we are in a privileged situation since the Board is very much involved.

The members have a good understanding of the risks associated with sustainability issues and this helps to support our mission internally. A Board Sustainability Committee meets approximately every two months to discuss future investments, ambitions and decisions. We focus on our strategy and strongly leverage on our position within the organization to build people’s knowledge. The main objective is to break silos, and to define specific training plans at a corporate level. We set-up seminars and courses on a number of aspects of sustainability and we think about new initiatives to drive our internal competencies.

According to you, what are the main challenges for the future?
The shift to a low carbon world is probably the most challenging step for the future. Balancing the need for emission cuts and helping communities to have access to affordable sustainable energy sources are major elements to be placed on the radar too. High carbon efficiency and investments in low-carbon business opportunities will help ensure the long-term viability of our industry. Creating
local value helps maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the communities in which we operate. Together with safe and secure operations, this is a prerequisite for sound business performance. We want to build a new energy business focusing on opportunities arising from the transition to a low carbon world.
The industry is transforming fast. All stakeholders have to work together to find new solutions. We work closely with our suppliers to explore new technologies, for example, in 2014 we entered into long term charter contracts for 14 “eco-design” vessels to be delivered in the next few year.
Collaboration is essential to grasp new opportunities. Our approach to business and growth within renewables and new energy solutions includes both commercial investments and research & development. Our offshore floating wind technology, Hywind, for example, can be developed in places where conventional bottom fixed turbine structures are not feasible. Statoil has been testing such an offshore wind technology over the past six years through the single Hywind Demo turbine installed off the Norwegian west coast; a new project, the Hywind Scotland Offshore Wind Pilot Park, is currently being built and is expected to supply 20 000 Scottish households with renewable power.