GREENWASHING: Energy Companies Take ‘Oil’ And ‘Gas’ Out Of Their Name

REUTERS/Toby Melville

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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Norwegian oil giant Statoil is changing its name to Equinor — the latest in a string of companies to remove references to fossil fuels from their names.

Shareholders in the company will approve the board’s proposal Tuesday as the company attempts to diversify outside fossil fuel production and attract younger employees more concerned about climate change, Reuters reported. (RELATED: Oil Industry And Left-Wing Enviros Find Common Cause In A Carbon Tax)

“A name with ‘oil’ as a component would increasingly be a disadvantage. None of our competitors has that,” Statoil CEO Eldar Saetre told Reuters. “It served us really well for 50 years; I don’t think it will be the best name for the next 50 years.”

The company also hopes to attract younger employees who are more concerned about climate change, generally, than older generations. Statoil has dropped from being Norway’s most attractive employer in 2013 to the country’s 15th ranked employer in 2018.

“Students who answered the survey after (news of) the name change found Statoil to be between five percent and 10 percent more attractive as an employer,” Arne Kvalsvik at Evidente, one of the firms that conducts an annual survey on the attractiveness of companies, told Reuters.

Saetre’s claim is becoming increasingly correct as more and more oil companies scrub references to their chief stream of income from their names, Quartz reported.

Many oil giants competing on the international stage already sport neutral names such as ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco. Others, like Statoil, are rebranding themselves. Since 2015, at least eight other oil and gas companies have undergone name changes to take a more neutral tone. In April 2015, Neste Oil became just Nest; Painted Pony Petroleum became Pianted Pony Energy in May 2017.

The industry shift to rebrand is also taking place in investment as oil and gas companies increasingly branch out to other sources of energy such as solar and wind.

Oil giants roughly doubled acquisitions, investments and venture capital stakes in green and alternative energy production from 2015 to 2016, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis.

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