Climate Change

23 Apr 2024

Investors Push Equinor to Align Strategy With Global Climate Goal

23 Apr 2024  by reuters   

Equinor's logo is seen next to the company's headquarters in Stavanger, Norway December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Investors have filed a resolution at Norwegian oil company Equinor (EQNR.OL), opens new tab, majority owned by the government, to bring its strategy and capital spending into line with the Paris Agreement on climate.

The move is the latest in the current annual general meeting season after several oil and gas companies scaled back climate ambitions in the face of an energy crisis and high prices.

Among those to change tack include Britain's Shell (SHEL.L), opens new tab, while U.S.-based ExxonMobil (XOM.N), opens new tab is suing investors who asked it to cut emissions faster, drawing a fresh resolution, opens new tab calling for the removal of the chief executive.

The Equinor resolution also underlines Norway's dual position as a major oil and gas exporter that wants to continue producing fossil fuels while at the same time being active diplomatically to cut global greenhouse gas emissions.

Equinor's board urged shareholders to reject the resolution, saying its energy transition strategy was aligned with the Paris Agreement, while adding the company was being "flexible" in executing the strategy and adapting to market conditions.

"Geopolitical developments call for a balanced energy transition. More investments in energy production and infrastructure are needed to secure security of supply and reduce the cost of energy," it said in a notice.

The government, which holds a 67% stake in Equinor, did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. It has voted against all climate resolutions proposed by the company's minority shareholders so far.

Filed by a group of small investors, led by UK-based Sarasin & Partners and seen by Reuters, the resolution calls on Equinor to update its strategy and capital spending plan.

"The updated (capital expenditure) plan should specify how any plans for new oil and gas reserve development are consistent with the Paris Agreement goals," the resolution says.

In February, Equinor said it would aim to sustain domestic oil and gas output between 2020 and 2035, while its international output is set to rise by 15% between 2024 and 2030.

It also plans to drill 20-30 exploration wells per year off Norway to discover more resources, and to develop new fields abroad, including in Canada, Tanzania and Brazil.

The shareholders behind the resolution said such plans were not in line with the Paris Agreement and based on overly optimistic oil price assumptions.

The centre-left government says Norway should continue producing petroleum with the lowest emissions possible as long as there is demand, and also due to Europe's energy security needs.

Last year, the government said it expected Equinor to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, but its board, not the general meeting, should decide the strategy.


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