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From Statoil to Equinor

Statoil changed its name to Equinor on 16 May 2018. That marked a strategic shift, initiated by CEO Eldar Sætre, towards becoming a broader energy company.
By Kristin Øye Gjerde, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
- Eldar Sætre in front of Equinor’s logo. Photo: Ole Jørgen Bratland

Even before the name alteration, sustainability had become an integrated part of the company’s strategy. It adopted measures to develop the business in a way which supported the Paris agreement and UN’s sustainable development goals.

“We believe the winners in the energy transition will be the producers that can deliver at low cost and with low carbon emissions. We believe there are attractive business opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Sætre wrote in his introduction to Statoil’s 2017 annual and sustainability reports.[REMOVE]Fotnote: https://www.equinor.com/no/news/archive/23mar2018-annual-sustainability-reports-2017

The trend towards a more climate-neutral society created new business opportunities, and the company’s management therefore believed the time was right for a new name which reflected its altered course.

Although many in the organisation identified strongly with the Statoil designation, it could no longer be considered suitable. The prefix “Stat” for state-owned had ceased to be wholly appropriate when the company became part-privatised in 2001, and “oil” was not something it wanted to be solely identified with.

The new name was not so specific and provided scope for various interpretations. “Equi” is intended to reflect such values as justice, equality and balance, while “nor” signals the Norwegian company’s roots.

A new logo – the fifth in the company’s history – was also adopted.

In 1973, the original name – Den norske stats oljeselskap (The Norwegian State Oil Company) was amended in practice to Statoil –more serviceable internationally. The logo became a droplet in turquoise and white, which created associations with a drop of oil.

This droplet changed colours in 1986 to orange on a blue background. With the company name in white, this was more visible on the neon signs which identified Statoil service stations.

The company logos over the years. Source: Equinor

The merger with Norsk Hydro’s oil and energy division in 2007 led to a change of name to StatoilHydro – without altering the logo.

Statoil returned as the official name in 2009. Its status as a modern international company was marked with a fresh logo featuring a magenta star. The service stations continued to use the orange droplet on a blue background until the chain was sold to Canada’s Alimentation Couche-Tard in 2012 and changed its name to Circle K.

The star was reconfigured in 2018 and magenta became red to coincide with the adoption of Equinor.

Many people – and not least Arve Johnsen, the company’s first CEO – were critical of the new name and regretted that it eliminated the public goodwill aroused by the original. Johnsen asked whether this was an example of greenwashing, which tried to make the company seem greener than it was. He pointed out that its object, as formulated in the articles of association, was to explore for and produce, transport, process and market petroleum and its derivatives.[REMOVE]Fotnote: https://www.dn.no/energi/eldar-satre/arve-johnsen/vidkunn-hveding/mister-statoil-til-kamp-mot-equinor-navnet/2-1-298093

Some commentators felt that “Equinor” gave associations with equus – Latin for horse. Ståle Kyllingstad, CEO of the IKM group, responded with a touch of west Norwegian humour: “The horse can be called what you like for me, as long as it pulls”. In his view, it was up to management and board to decide the company’s name.[REMOVE]Fotnote: DNtv, 15 March 2018

And management believed that the change was appropriate. In its view, “Equinor” reflected a future course where the company became a broader energy company with the goal of sharply increasing its investment in renewable sources.


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