If industry can make low carbon a business advantage, Paris aims will be met

Written by Bjørn Otto Sverdrup on 22 March 2017 in Thought Leader
Thought Leader

The world needs low cost and lower emissions energy producers, writes Bjørn Otto Sverdrup.

Bjørn Otto Sverdrup | Photo credit: Ole Jørgen Bratland / Statoil

We are witnessing a global energy transition. On the back of rapidly falling costs, new renewables could represent up to 15 per cent of the energy mix by 2040. And yet, by this time oil and gas will still make up a big part of the energy we use, especially because of growing global demand. 

We need to combine cost-competitive renewables and carbon-competitive non-renewable resources. This is precisely the foundation of Statoil's new climate roadmap; to develop a low carbon advantage.

Now that the ink has dried in Paris, I see it as our duty to deliver energy at low cost with lower emissions. We aim to remain an industry leader in carbon efficiency, emitting as little carbon as possible from each barrel produced.


Right now, the carbon intensity of our production is around 10kg per barrel of oil equivalent - with an ambitious target of 8kg by 2030 - while the industry average is 18 kg per barrel. The road from Paris also makes commercial sense.

Statoil's wind farms are on track to deliver electricity to over a million homes in Europe, and they are already delivering returns to our shareholders. That is why we intend to invest around 15 to 20 per cent of our annual capital expenditure in new energy solutions by 2030.

At the same time, the world's carbon budget is tightening. Staying within that budget is an enormous challenge. That is why we need to acknowledge that the energy transition is not just about more renewables - we need to achieve carbon neutrality globally in the overall economy through a coherent effort across all sectors by the end of the century.

In my view, the commercial uptake of emerging technologies will play a crucial part in helping the world to become carbon-neutral. 

Today, Statoil is capturing and storing CO2, a success story that could feed into the development of a full-scale CCS value chain in northern Europe. We are also looking at projects in hydrogen technologies which hold great potential for reducing emissions in the transport, industrial and heating sectors.

Finally, we need visionary and coordinated policies. A price on carbon is probably the most efficient policy tool to make low-carbon cost-competitive.

And we need to make sure that when we need other measures, such as support for renewables and energy efficiency, they are introduced in a coordinated way.

Paris was not built in one day; and the Paris agreement will not be implemented in short order. The first patent for solar cells was received in 1888, the first wind turbines for electricity generation were built in 1887. But if industry is able to make low carbon a business advantage, I have no doubt that Paris will happen. At Statoil, we are ready to do our part.


About the author

Bjørn Otto Sverdrup is Senior Vice- President, Sustainability at Statoil

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