Statoil’s CEO shakes up his team

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Helge Lund, chief executive of Norwegian oil company Statoil, was back in the news over the weekend after shaking up his management team and then some environmentalists.

Helge Lund, president and chief executive of Norwegian oil company Statoil presents the company's first quarter 2010 results during a news conference in Oslo May 5, 2010. Statoil ASA posted above forecast first-quarter earnings, boosted by higher oil prices but said that gas markets would stay challenging. REUTERS/Erik Johansen/Scanpix (NORWAY - Tags: BUSINESS) NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES INNORWAY. NO COMMERCIAL OR BOOK SALES

First Lund announced some major changes among his top staff at Norway’s biggest company. Four Norwegians were replaced, mostly by non-Norwegians in an apparent effort to make Statoil more international at its highest levels.

More than 25 percent of Statoil petroleum production now comes from outside Norway, and as North Sea reserves run out, Statoil’s overseas operations are expected to play an increasingly larger role.

Only right, figured Lund (PicApp photo at right), that the company’s top managers come from overseas as well. The new head of exploration will be Tim Dodson, a 25-year Statoil veteran who’s British. John Knight, also British, will lead a new business area called “global strategy and business development,” based in London.

Bill Maloney, an American, will head Statoil’s development and production in North America, while Norwegian-Canadian Tove Stuhr Sjøblom will be head of corporate personnel and further develop the company’s organizational structure.

Statoil’s new finance director, however, will remain a Norwegian, Torgrim Reitan, and Lund’s new team is due to be in place by January 1.

Renewable energy under scrutiny

Lund also shook up some environmentalists just before the weekend by stating that he’s questioning whether Statoil should continue investing in renewable energy projects. He told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that within three to four years, “we’ll have to evaluate whether we manage to meet the challenges that this part of the energy branch has.”

Statoil’s CEO doesn’t seem to see much profit potential within renewable energy, noting that the company’s investment in windmills, for example, has not been profitable. Renewable energy operations, he said, “can get bigger, but they can also become smaller if we don’t feel we have the competence needed to develop them.”

Renewable energy advocates didn’t like hearing that, believing Statoil has an obligation to invest in clean energy projects. Lund doesn’t agree.

“We talking about very high costs,” he told NRK. “Large portions of this industry is based on subsidies, so that’s why we must bring down the costs.”

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