Commentary, 7/8, 2002

Published Dec 11, 2003
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It’s all in the Spin!
Observing the negative headlines in the media recently it might be easy to get a bit gloomy. But for the oil & gas industry there are plenty of positive issues worth noticing as well. Statoil’s Snøhvit is well under way, and Norsk Hydro’s Ormen Lange is on the starting line, to mention but a few.

Besides, where there’s negative new presented, there’s also often a positive angle to be found. This summer saw the Director of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, Gunnar Berge state that the pessimism within the oil & gas industry, and within the rig market in particular, is exaggerated!

There are plenty of challenges to be found on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS). For instance, there is absolutely no reason why Norway should not be a world-leader in safety, but we are not.

At the same time there are plenty of proofs to be found that problems are opportunities in disguise. The environment issue is one. We all remember times not long ago when oil companies and environmental organizations were bitter enemies. Environmental issues were seen as troublesome obstacles on the way to making revenues. Indeed, there are companies that seem to have that view even today.

But the oil & gas supermajors have turned on their heels and opened up discussions with environmental organisations. In Norway Statoil sponsors Bellona. It doesn’t make Statoil perfect in terms of environmental policy, but it is a step towards constructive handling of an issue that affects every living human - and humans to come. BP is the leading energy company when it comes to the environment, recently reaching their target of getting CO2 emissions down below 1990 level -years ahead of their original target.

Shell is also getting into the ‘race to be green’. It’s former head; Sir Sir Mark Moody-Stuart is now on the Board of Directors at consultancy group Innovest Strategic Value Advisors Inc. They recently published a report on ‘Intangible values linked to sustainability.’

The study is of corporate environmental positioning in the global oil & gas sector. It shows that leading firms achieved superior results across a number of financial metrics. In the report Innovest examines the extent to which environmental, social and political factors influence the generation and protection of shareholder value within the oil and gas industry and provides strong evidence of the financial merits of sustainability leadership.

‘Evidence is growing that companies that pursue a sustainable path can create wealth not only for society as a whole, but also for their employees and their shareholders. Indeed, leadership in sustainability can translate directly into leadership in innovation, in operating efficiency, in customer satisfaction and in brand value,’ Sir Mark Moody-Stuart says.

So in a matter of a few years what was seen as a troublesome problem has become a way of increasing revenues and strengthen the position of a company.

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