By Nérijus Adomaitis
OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian energy giant Equinor must set tighter short-term targets for reducing the company’s climate impact when it presents a new strategy next week, minority shareholders have said.
CEO Anders Opedal, who took the reins late last year with a pledge to accelerate the state-controlled company’s renewable investments, also faces demands for climate action from the share of favorite opposition politicians to win office this year.
The June 15 Strategy Update is the best opportunity for Opedal to leave its mark on a company that, more than anything, has become the symbol of the half-century of oil and gas production that has made Norway one of the richest countries in the world.
The CEO has said he wants to achieve net zero emissions from Equinor’s operations and the end use of its energy by 2050, but the current strategy is still to increase oil and gas production at least until 2026.
“With the urgency we feel and experience on climate-related issues, we expect the strategy to be bold and detailed on how to achieve net zero goals,” Jan Erik Saugestad told Reuters , Head of Storebrand Asset Management.
“We expect them to set short-term (2025), medium-term (2026-2030) and long-term (2030-2050) goals,” he said.
Storebrand funds hold a 0.5% stake in Equinor, according to Refinitiv Eikon.
The pressure on energy companies to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels was highlighted last month when a Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.
Norway’s largest pension fund KLP, which owns 0.6% of the capital, said it was important for Equinor to align its investments and activities with the Paris Climate Pact.
Equinor’s carbon neutrality strategy “still has the potential to become more science-based given how the company can achieve net zero by 2050,” KLP said.
Espen Barth Eide, energy policy spokesman for the Norwegian opposition Labor Party who leads the polls ahead of the September vote, said Opedal should show how he plans to transform Equinor.
“The direction of the trip should be towards a renewable future and decent management of the final stages of the fossil age,” he said, adding Labor wanted the government to be at least as active as private investors. on climate issues.
“We don’t want the minister telling the CEO what to do, but we want the state to be clear on its intentions behind its property,” he said.
The Norwegian government’s 67% stake shields Equinor from pressure from activist shareholders, but state-controlled companies must always listen to their owners about the strategy.
Equinor has sold part of its onshore oil and gas business in the United States and may withdraw further from its international upstream fossil fuel business and expand its renewables business overseas, said RBC analyst Biraj Borkhataria.
Equinor was not immediately available for comment.
(Edited by Terje Solsvik, Gwladys Fouché and Edmund Blair)