Norway’s Statoil backs new climate resilience resolution co-filed by Swedish AP funds

RI can reveal state-controlled company is the latest target for ‘Aiming for A’ campaign

Norway’s state-controlled oil giant Statoil has become the latest fossil fuel firm to be targeted by the ‘Aiming for A’ investor coalition on climate resilience – and like its peers BP and Royal Dutch Shell it is recommending that its shareholders back the resolution.

The investors, led by Swedish state funds Fjärde AP-fonden (AP4) and Andra AP-fonden (AP2), have filed a proposal at Stavanger-based Statoil on strategic resilience from 2035 and beyond that will be voted on at the company’s annual meeting on May 19, by coincidence the same day as Shell’s AGM.

A similar resolution earlier this month at BP went through with 98% shareholder backing.

Statoil, which is listed in Norway and the US and in which the Norwegian state has a 67% stake, says it acknowledges the scientific consensus on human-induced climate change and that its board will ensure that its 2016 sustainability reporting will “evolve further”.

It said additional information would be disclosed about ongoing operational emissions management, asset portfolio resilience to post-2035 scenarios, low carbon energy research and development and investment strategies, strategic key performance indicators, executive incentives
and public policy intervention. “Based on the above, the board of directors recommends the general meeting to support the proposal,” Statoil says in its newly released AGM notice.

Arne Lööw and Ulrika Danielson, of AP4 and AP2, said: “Since oil related energy companies all have challenges ahead regarding both financial and, even more, environmental issues, we see this resolution as a good tool for helping Statoil to strengthen their reporting on climate issues.”Helen Wildsmith, Head of Ethical and Responsible Investment at fund manager CCLA, who convened the UK-focused ‘Aiming for A’ initiative added: “It’s excellent to hear that BP and Shell’s leadership is being replicated in other markets by Statoil, and that our Swedish co-filers were able to secure another board supported shareholder resolution at such short notice this year.”

But Statoil, the world’s eleventh largest oil and gas firm, is rejecting a separate proposal from WWF Norway and Greenpeace Norway about its reporting, which cites a HSBC report claiming that as much as 15% of its reserves could be “stranded assets”. Statoil says it could mean it having to disclose commercially sensitive information. The NGOs had wanted a focus on “high-risk assets” such as unconventional fossil fuel investments, including in the Arctic, tar sands, extreme deep water and “all new projects in the portfolio”.

A final tally of all assets owners who voted for the BP resolution will be released on May 7, including the likes of Dutch giant PGGM and others who weren’t able to pre-declare their voting intentions.

Statoil’s decision to back the AP funds’ resolution highlights the gulf between European and US oil and gas firms. Bill McGrew, portfolio manager at CalPERS – in London for the BP AGM – told RI: “We are engaging with Exxon, Chevron and Devon Energy, but while open-minded they are not at the same stage as BP and Shell on disclosure. Constructive engagement which produces results can take years, not months.”

On the overwhelming vote at BP, McGrew said it shows the issue is “supported by the entire shareowner base”.