October 12, 2023

How Norway’s oil company Equinor is fuelling the climate crisis and threatening vulnerable marine habitats

What do you think of when you think of Norway? Winter Olympics? Viking TV shows or beautiful fjords and mountain landscapes? More and more Norway is being rightly associated with the climate destruction caused by their state-owned oil company Equinor, one of the most aggressive oil and gas companies in the world and the company behind Rosebank. 

A new report written by Greenpeace Nordic together with the Equinor Out coalition, a coalition of global organisations fighting to stop Equinor projects in their countries which Stop Rosebank is proud of, reveals the huge gap between Norway climate rhetoric and Equinor’s aggressive pursuit of new oil and gas projects like Rosebank

The report, titled "The truth about Equinor's global projects - how Norway’s state-owned oil company is fuelling climate chaos”, takes a closer look at four of Equinor's global projects that have faced strong public and political opposition - Rosebank, Bacalhau in Brazil, Bay du Nord in Canada and offshore exploration in the Argentine Sea - plus Equinor’s major contribution to continued exploration and extraction on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. 

A closer look at Equinor’s global projects exposes how Norway’s state-owned oil company continues to ignore climate science, Norway’s climate and nature commitments, and the Norwegian government's expectations of state-owned companies. Not only is Equinor expected to make investment decisions on several huge oil projects, the report also includes analysis by WWF-Norway which finds that over 50% of the discoveries and exploration licences in the Equinor portfolio is located more than 50 km away from existing Equinor infrastructure. This is in direct opposition to statements Equinor has made that the company is prioritising development in areas where they already have activity and existing infrastructure, and that frontier exploration will be limited. 

At the same time as Norway’s Prime Minister is urging nations to sign up to the global oceans treaty, their state-owned oil company is pursuing oil and gas projects in marine protected areas and ecologically vulnerable territories. 

Winter sports activists in Norway protesting Equinor's climate destruction

Equinor = an expert in greenwashing 

Equinor has largely escaped scrutiny in the UK in the past, only rising to public consciousness this year over its destructive Rosebank oil field. This is partly due to the fact that the company changed its name from Statoil in 2018 to signal how it was moving from being an oil company to a “broad energy company”. But nothing could be further from the truth: in 2022 a tiny 0.13% of the energy Equinor produced in 2022 was renewable and only 3% of its investments went to renewable energy

Despite stark warnings from the UN and the International Energy Agency that there is no room for any new coal, oil or gas projects if we are to manage to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, Equinor wants to keep drilling.

In fact, Equinor plans to increase its oil and gas production by 3 percent in 2023, to “continue to grow production” towards 2026, and for its 2030 production “to be on par with today, ”in the words of CEO Anders Opedal. And they’ll achieve this by continuing to open huge new oil and gas projects like Rosebank. 

But the tide is turning for Equinor and their owners, the Norwegian government. The Rosebank campaign has sparked huge resistance also in Norway, and the Prime Minister was forced to answer for the project in the Norwegian Parliament earlier this year. In September, Norway was refused a chance to speak at the UNSG summit in New York due to their continued fossil fuel expansion, a major blow for Norway’s climate image. Earlier this month, activists from Greenpeace Norway and Greenpeace Argentina took action against Equinor's plans to start seismic shooting and oil exploration off the coast of Argentina. Equinor is facing legal challenges in Canada, Argentina, and in December the Norwegian Government will be in court over the approval of three new oil fields including Equinor’s Breidablikk field. 

Around the world, people are standing up against Equinor and the fossil fuel industry. Stop Rosebank is part of a global movement of people fighting for a liveable future for all, and we’re only getting stronger.

Take Action…