Statoil executives’ salaries fuel critics

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News that Statoil’s chief executive Helge Lund was paid a total of NOK 13.8 million last year, including bonus, has provoked labour leaders told that Statoil otherwise needs to costs. Lund, meanwhile, was also in the news Tuesday over an invitation to the White House in Washington last fall that the company refuses to discuss.

Statoil chief executive Helge Lund was paid NOK 13.8 million (USD 2.3 million) last year. Company officials, meanwhile, won't say why he was invited to the White House last fall for a meeting that ended up getting cancelled. PHOTO: Statoil/Harald Pettersen

Statoil chief executive Helge Lund was paid NOK 13.8 million (USD 2.3 million) last year. Company officials, meanwhile, won’t say why he was invited to the White House last fall for a meeting that ended up getting cancelled. PHOTO: Statoil/Harald Pettersen

Norwegian media were quick to spread reports late last week that Lund’s pay wasn’t cut last year after rising by NOK 1.6 million from 2011. According to filings with US authorities, required because of Statoil’s US stocklisting, Lund’s pay topped the list of Statoil executives, followed by NOK 10.8 million (USD 1.8 million) for Statoil’s strategy director John Knight and NOK 9.6 million for the head of development and production in the US, Bill Maloney.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that Knight’s total compensation actually declined, from NOK 12.3 million in 2012, amidst criticism in Norway that he has been largely responsible for Statoil’s costly international expansion, not least in North America. Knight also has firmed his grip on Statoil’s strategy in his London office and rarely appears in Norway, raising concerns that he’s farther than Lund from the Norwegian politicians, labour leaders and local media keen on monitoring his operations or questioning his authority.

‘Provoked’
Maloney’s compensation was only slightly higher last year, up from NOK 9.4 million in 2012, but labour leaders currently involved in wage negotiations for their members weren’t pleased. Even though Lund’s pay was stable last year, newspaper Klassekampen reported that his total compensation has risen 25 percent over the past three years.

An analysis of oil company executives’ overall compensation reported by newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad showed average raises of 21.5 percent last year. The results “will be discussed” during this year’s labour negotiations, warned Leif Sande, head of the trade union Industri Energi.

“I won’t use much time on Helge Lund’s pay this year, but the other oil bosses’ pay raises provoke us,” Sande told Stavanger Aftenblad. “They’re giving themselves a bigger pay hike than the rest of us have had for 10 years.” The pay and bonus reports come just after the chief of Norway’s biggest bank, DNB, was also roundly criticized for accepting a relatively large bonus after raising interest rates on home loans last year.

Mum on White House invitation
DN, meanwhile, also reported on Tuesday that Statoil’s Lund was invited to the White House last year to meet US President Barack Obama’s anti-terrorism chief, Lisa Monaco. Statoil was the target of a terrorist attack on a gas plant in Algeria, but Statoil officials won’t say why Lund, two of Statoil’s lobbyists in the US and Ingunn Svegården, who works in Lund’s office in Norway, were invited.

“The most important thing for us to put forward (is) that the meeting never took place,” wrote Statoil director Jan Karl Karlsen in an e-mail to DN. “Otherwise we have no further comment.”

Lund’s invitation was revealed in visitor lists made public by the White House. Chief executives of the US’ largest oil companies are regularly invited to the White House, but not those of European companies like Shell or Total. Powerful and wealthy Norwegian investors and businessmen like John Fredriksen and Kjell Inge Røkke haven’t been invited either, according to DN, raising questions as to why Lund was, on October 9 last year.

The meeting fell victim to the US government’s shutdown last year in connection with budget conflicts. Statoil wouldn’t comment on whether another meeting is planned.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund