Oil billionaire calls for Statoil boss to be sacked

A Norwegian oil billionaire and private equity investor has called for Statoil's chief executive Helge Lund to be sacked as the company posted a 14 percent drop in net income and shelved its 2020 production target.

Oil billionaire calls for Statoil boss to be sacked
Helge Lund - Photo: Trond Isaksen/Statoil
"Helge Lund and a dozen directors in charge of overseas business should pick up their hats and go," Endre Røsjø told Norway's Finansavisen newspaper. "This is the world's most competitive business. It's not the place for retired senior executives from other industries and washed-up politicians" 
The state-controlled oil giant quietly dropped its 2020 production target in a footnote to one of the slides on it's results presentation. 
"According to projections, 2.5 million boed production to be reached 3-4 years after the previous 2020 estimate," it read. 
In a press statement Lund, who this August will have led the company for ten years, said it was important to put financial returns over production. 
"Our strategy for value creation and growth remains firm, but we are making some important changes," he said. "Stricter project prioritisation and a comprehensive efficiency program will improve cash flow and profitability." 
He said the company would cut annual investment to $20bn a year, a cut of eight percent on its previous strategy. 
Røsjø, an investment banker who made his name in the US oil industry in the 1980s, now runs private equity firm Centennial AS. 

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‘Call me Equinor’: Statoil changes name

Norway's largest oil company Statoil officially changed its name to Equinor on Wednesday as it forges ahead with its drive into renewable energy.

'Call me Equinor': Statoil changes name
CEO Eldar Sætre presents the name change in Stavanger. Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB Scanpix

Proposed in March and adopted on Tuesday at the shareholders' general meeting, the name change allows the company to take a step back — at least in name — from the Norwegian state, which owns 67 percent of its shares, and from oil. 

Equinor is meant to combine the idea of equity and equilibrium (“equi”) and geographical origin (“nor”) for Norway.

Founded in 1972 to operate Norway's large oil fields, the company — which is listed on both the Oslo and New York stock exchanges — is now active in renewable energies, including wind farms off the UK coast.

The group has earmarked 15-20 percent of its investments to “new energy solutions” by 2030.

But this shift has been cold shouldered by environmentalists concerned about global warming as they accuse the company of “green washing”.

“Statoil name change to attract young talent will not be sufficient as long as Equinor is exploring in vulnerable areas, such as the Arctic or the Great Australian Bight,” tweeted Truls Gulowsen, leader for Greenpeace in Norway.

READ ALSO: Norway pledges to spend less oil money in new budget