Transparent business is good business

In this speech, held on 23 May at the Statoil office in Fornebu, Oslo, Statoil's CEO Eldar Sætre lays out why the company is engaged in the EITI. 

Good evening everyone and welcome to Statoil. lt's a great pleasure to host the EITI here in Oslo.

Oslo's nickname in Norwegian is 'Tigerstaden', the Tiger City, which came from its reputation, 150 years ago, as a dangerous and hostile place. I hope your experience so far of Norway's capital city means you'll agree that a lot has changed since then.

The EITI's work is important to us - and indeed to our whole industry. lt is an essential part of building an increasingly broad understanding that greater transparency around our business enhances stability and trust.

This in turn encourages better governance and improved conditions for long-term investment, which are both essential for secure and reliable energy supply.

Earlier this year, Statoil released its third 'payments to governments' report, showing how much we pay to governments across the world for each individual project we are engaged in.

Our experience with this reporting has been positive. Raising the level of transparency from the country-level to individual projects has put us in a position to improve dialogue with legislators and stakeholders.

Since we began this reporting, we have seen other oil and gas companies follow suit. We are encouraged that the EITI is contributing to creating a level playing field by ensuring similar reporting for all companies operating in its member countries. A broader and consistent industry approach will benefit us all.

A little more than a year ago, the global outrage in response to the Panama Papers leaks was a stark reminder of the need for a collective effort to combat hidden ownership. Although this is a challenge across the world and in all sectors, experience has shown that it is definitely a challenge in our industry. 

It has not always been possible for Statoil to establish the ultimate owner of the companies we are looking to work with. This is unfortunate as it increases the risk of corruption.

The EITI's new requirements for beneficial ownership transparency will help us know who we are doing business with and are contributing to a global norm where hiding such information from the public will increasingly be considered unacceptable.

lt will also build trust, in that the companies that are best placed to extract resources and return benefits to society are given the right to do so, and that such rights are not due to other affiliations.

Over the past year. Statoil has also contributed to the EITI's work on increasing transparency in how commodities are traded by states and state-owned companies, which helps provide a fuller picture of what a country gets in return for its natural resources.

This is why we at Statoil are also transparent about the physical volumes of oil and gas entitlements that belong to host governments where we operate.

I understand that the EITI Board today discussed various strategic opportunities. I am particularly pleased to hear from Fredrik that among many topics, you talked about how to improve transparency in companies that are state-owned, like Statoil, including how they are governed and how they manage resources on behalf of the state.

Statoil works hard to build and keep our position as an industry leader in transparency. Our commitment is enshrined in our company's values: Open, courageous, collaborative and caring.

These values underlie everything we do and guide every decision we make. Together, they give us the basis to engage with, and earn the trust of, our business partners and society. And we look to work with partners and suppliers which share our commitment to values-based business.

This is important for us and for the societies we operate in.

At Statoil, we know that transparent and ethical business is good business. But we are one piece of a larger picture.

What really matters is not only what individual companies do, but what the industry and governments can achieve together, and how wider society can use the information we provide to demand improvements in how the sector is governed and how the revenues are managed. 

The EITI enables such conversations and sets the standards and that is why it is so important.

ln conclusion, the EITI has been a great success story in driving greater transparency and accountability. We would like to see the EITI continue on what has proved to be a very productive journey. This means ensuring better and more useful transparency in member countries, and encouraging more countries to join the process.

lt is a pleasure and privilege for us here at Statoil to host the EITI Board and its many observers here tonight.

I would particularly like to thank Fredrik for his leadership and our own colleague Carine, who has served on the EITI Board and is now leaving Statoil. We wish her good luck at her new job at the Norwegian State Pension Fund.

You all do important work for our industry and for the societies we serve.

You have become an important forum and you are at the centre of the global energy governance dialogue.

We are pleased that you brought this dialogue to us here tonight. Thank you for your attention. 

 

Statoil is a supporting company and has a representative on the EITI Board.

Image credit: Ole Jørgen Bratland. Source: Statoil press images