Equinor picks new CEO to ‘accelerate energy transition’

Incoming Equinor CEO Anders Opedal has been executive president of technology in the company's projects and drilling unit since 2018.

Anders Opedal will start as CEO on 2 November 2020 (pic credit: Ole Jørgen Bratland)
Anders Opedal will start as CEO on 2 November 2020 (pic credit: Ole Jørgen Bratland)

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Equinor has appointed the technology chief from its drilling and projects division as its new CEO to replace Eldar Sætre, who is retiring after six years at the top and more than 40 years with the company.

The chair of the board at the Norwegian oil and gas major described incoming CEO Anders Opedal as the “right person to further develop Equinor as a force in the green shift”.

Opedal joined Equinor as a petroleum engineer in 1997 and had most recently served as executive vice president for technology in the company’s projects and drilling division.

In a conference call, he told reporters that he has engineering and operational experience in both fossil-fuels and renewables projects – including serving as project leader for the Sheringham Shoal and Hywind Tampen offshore wind farms, and the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage project.

Opedal added that he hopes to “take (his) experience into how we can accelerate growth within renewables, but also low-carbon solutions”.

Jon Erik Reinhardsen, chair of Equinor’s board of directors, said Opedal’s role would be “to accelerate our development as a broad energy company and to increase value creation for our shareholders through the energy transition”.

During Sætre’s tenure as CEO, Equinor changed its name from Statoil to reflect its ambition to become a broader energy company.

The company aims to invest 15-20% of annual capital expenditure (Capex) in its New Energy Solutions unit — which works in offshore wind, carbon capture and storage and other low-carbon alternatives — by 2030. The vast majority of Capex (80-85%) will remain in fossil fuels until the end of next decade.

Analysis by Rystad Energy suggested that Equinor is due to lead spening on renewables among oil and gas majors over the next five years.

Sætre will continue to advise the new CEO before retiring from the company on 1 March 2021.

Opedal will be immediately replaced as EVP for technology in projects and drilling by Equinor senior vice president Geir Tungesvik.

As CEO, Opedal will receive a base salary of NOK 9.1 million (€855,000), Equinor stated.

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