Statoil’s tar sands involvement to be addressed at AGM

Greenpeace action at last year’s Statoil AGM.


By Anders Lorenzen

Today in Stavanger, Norway, the Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil are having it’s yearly AGM. In recent years there have been a movement and anger building up against the fossil fuel company which are owned 67% by the state and hence the Norwegian taxpayers. The reason for the criticism of Statoil is that the activities of the company is stretching far beyond the waters of Norway.


As Greenpeace Norway’s Martin Norman yesterday said on his blog on A greener life, a greener world there has been two motions tabled at this years AGM: 1) Statoil’s continued involvement in the Canadian tar sands (tar sands have been discussed at Statoil’s AGM since 2008), 2) Statoil’s plans to conduct oil drilling in the Arctic waters in 2014 . Plenty of people and organisations oppose Statoil’s investments in the tar sands which range from the Norwegian Church to Forfatterforeningen (Norway’s union for writers and novelists) and even the conservative opposition party to the current democratic government. Current Socialist government led by Labour Party Jens Stoltenberg does despite the state owning a 67% share in the company not interfere in their policies.


A letter dated the 8th of May is calling for the Norwegian government to demand that Statoil withdraws from the tar sands and have been signed by 36 organisations (8 more than last year), mainly environmental organisations but also several political organisations have signed the letter which will be delivered to Statoil, Jens Stoltenberg and Norway’s oil and energy minister Ola Borten Moe.


In a skype call with me Martin Norman added that Statoil are one of the fossil fuel companies most exposed to unburnable carbon which refers to the amount of carbon we can’t burn if we are to stay within the two degree temperature rise which world leaders have agreed too. 565 gigatonnes of CO2 it is estimated that we can pour into our planet’s atmosphere to stay within the 2 degrees threshold, but 2,795 gigatonnes equals the amount of CO2 of proven coal, gas and oil reserves of the fossil fuel companies. This is the amount that fossil fuel companies are planning to burn and already now are trading on the worlds stock markets. Last week we also saw the dreaded benchmark of CO2 in the atmosphere having reached 400 PPM, a remarkable milestone because never before in human history have CO2 levels been that high.

The motion delivered to Statoil was jointly signed by WWF Norway’s Nina Jensen and Greenpeace Norway’s Truls Gulowsen who are both shareholders in the company and states:

“It is not in the shareholders’ long-term interest that Statoil continues to extract tar sands. At least two-thirds of the world’s current fossil-fuel reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have a 50% chance of reaching the internationally accepted goal of keepingglobal average temperatures below a 2 degrees C. increase in relation to pre-industriallevels.’’

But is not only in Norway noises are being made with Statoil’s connection to tar sands, in the US world renowned and respected climatologist James Hansen who have long argued for a halt to the tar sands and said if the controversial Keystone XL is approved it would be game over for the climate, in a blog on the Huffington Post praises the letter mentioned above demanding Statoil withdraws from the tar sands.

Oil from tar sands are a lot more carbon intensive than conventional oil, hence it creates more carbon pollution, pushing up CO2 levels. Campaigners are using heavy carbon polluting facts about tar sands that demand Statoil withdraw from the tar sands, especially with 400 PPM having been reached and as Martin Norman said to me: 

‘’We know climate change is happening. Should we or should we not invest in sustainable energy, it’s not a question of if but when’’

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