Equinor appoints new CEO to speed up renewable investments

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Equinor’s logo is seen next to the company’s headquarters in Stavanger

By Terje Solsvik

OSLO (Reuters) – Equinor (OL:) on Monday announced the appointment of Anders Opedal as chief executive effective from Nov. 2 as the Norwegian oil and gas group looks to speed up its push into renewable energy.

The new CEO, who had been executive vice president for technology, projects and drilling, replaces Eldar Saetre who will retire after more than 40 years at Norway’s biggest company.

Sources last month told Reuters that Opedal was one of four internal candidates short-listed for the top job.

“Equinor is entering a phase of significant change as the world needs to take more forceful action to combat climate change,” Chairman Jon Erik Reinhardsen said in a statement.

“The board’s mandate is for Anders to accelerate our development as a broad energy company and to increase value creation for our shareholders through the energy transition,” he added.

Saetre in 2018 changed the majority state-owned company’s name from Statoil to Equinor and promised to increase investment in renewable energy.

“We have a great starting point for what will be a massive transition with our strong assets, outstanding competence, technology and innovation skills,” Opedal said.

“We will accelerate the development of Equinor as a broad energy company and our growth within renewables,” he added.

Opedal, a former chief operating officer, has also been in charge of Equinor’s Brazil unit, where the firm plans a big offshore oil expansion in the coming years.

Saetre’s six years at the helm came at a time of upheaval in the energy industry, with a plunge in oil prices in 2014-2015 and again this year triggering large losses and write-offs.

With accumulated losses of $20.4 billion in Equinor’s U.S. operation, Norway’s energy minister this year called for greater transparency in the firm’s overseas investments.

“As far as we know Opedal is the one among the four internal candidates (who has the) least direct involvement in Equinor’s North America operations,” Sparebank 1 Markets analyst Teodor Sveen-Nilsen wrote in a note to clients.

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