Today we paid a visit to Statoil, a Norwegian oil company that is 67% government owned, present in 34 countries and an employer to 20,000 people. This company extracts 1.96 million barrels of oil per day, which makes it the 3rd largest exporter of oil in the world. It only holds this position because of the fact that Norway itself doesn’t consume much oil. Statoil is the world’s largest operator in waters deeper than 100 meters and is the world leader in carbon capture and sequestration. We visited the company to learn more about the oil industry and to hear about new innovations in the renewable sector.
When we entered the conference room where our meetings took place we were greeted by delicious-looking platters of tropical fruits and a presenter who assured us that Statoil is a very open company and that all presenters were looking forward to answering any questions that we may have. That being said, we had a wonderful afternoon of conversation.
Energy and Climate Realities
- Statoil realizes that it is part of the climate problem and, moreover that it needs to be part of the solution moving forward.
- Pressures on natural resources will continue to grow
- Demand for energy is accelerating as the developing world expands.
- There is an urgent need to reduce our impact on the environment
- The oil and gas industry are susceptible to economic turbulence
Statoil holds expertise in the following areas
- Harsh environments
- Deep water extraction
- Heavy oil
- Gas value chains
Statoil and Renewable Energy
Statoil is committed to exploring energy alternatives. The company is currently playing a large role in the UK Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, which will be online by 2012 if all goes as planned. This project involves 88 turbines and has the capacity to produce 317 megawatts of electricity. The production from this project alone will be enough to supply 220,000 British homes with electricity and will involve a reduction of 500,000 tons of CO2 annually.
Another project that Statoil is involved with is called “Dogger Bank Zone.” This project will be 100 miles off shore and has the potential to provide between 9-13 gigawatts of electricity, which would account for 10% of UK’s energy.
Statoil owns the one and only floating wind turbine, which is located off the coast of Norway. The project is called Hywind and Statoil hopes to expand this technology to other places in the coming year. One location that’s currently being discussed is right off the coast of Maine in the United States. Who knew? The benefit of floating wind turbines is that they can be put further offshore, which may be a solution to aesthetic oppositions to offshore wind farms.
We met with someone from the “new options” department of the company who talked to us a little bit about some exciting things happening in the world of biofuels. Statoil is currently working on second generation biofuels, in collaboration with other companies around the world, specifically one from Berkeley that has done work with seaweed biofuels. Currently the technology is being adapted to be able to handle Norwegian seaweed, which apparently is different from the seaweed found off the coast of California. Companies like Statoil already know a lot about processing and distribution, so they can actually bring some valuable resources to discussions about alternative fuels.
Benefits of using seaweed for ethanol include:
- Seaweed has a high sugar content and, therefore is highly productive as a biofuel
- Norway has excellent growth conditions for seaweed
- With seaweed there is no competition for land and water
- Seaweed is far more productive and efficient than corn.
Statoil also is in charge of operating hydrogen stations in Norway and has been involved with the development of this technology, recognizing that hydrogen may be a great solution moving forward. The company operates four Norwegian hydrogen stations and has five hydrogen cars in its fleet to demonstrate its commitment to innovation.
Statoil is also researching wave technology and subsea turbines for energy production. The company’s strategy is essentially to invest in as many technologies as possible to figure out what will be the most feasible in the end.