Statoil confirmed it was on the hunt for renewables firms to invest in.
The move is in line with the Norwegian operator’s bid to balance its energy portfolio.
The company has recently launched Statoil Energy Ventures – a new $200million investment fund that aims to expand on its track record in renewables – particularly in wind energy.
Statoil’s flagship Hywind project is now getting underway.
The project, off the coast of Aberdeenshire, will see the installation of five huge turbines in the water up to 360ft deep by 2017.
Ingunn Svegården, an investment director for Statoil Energy Ventures, said the company has already identified a number of companies to invest in.
Svegården said Statoil’s existing technical knowledge could be harnessed further in developing other offshore wind projects.
Svegården said: “The idea is three-fold, the first is to invest in companies that can support our current business within offshore wind.
“We’ve experience of this already and looking at companies that could support our activities from the UK.
“The second is using the fund to invest in companies that we see growth within a number of areas like onshore wind or solar.
“Thirdly, we want to invest in companies where we see a business model that will have some impact on the market.”
The fund will invest the money over a period of four to seven years and is said by Statoil to be one of the world’s largest corporate venture funds dedicated to renewables.
Svegården said the hunt for companies worth investing in had already begun – with staff in London and Oslo seeking out the most innovative renewable technologies.
She added: “We will actively look for companies within areas where we have our focus but we are also welcoming companies to come to us about their ideas and about their company too.
“We have already started to scan companies so hopefully will be able to share news later this year, we’ve now got a team in place to focus on these opportunities.
“Our team is based in Oslo and London – right now it’s a team of six investment professionals spread between the two bases. When we get a portfolio I’m sure that naturally, that team will expand.”
She said: “I think for us it’s offshore wind, we feel we can use our technical knowledge to expand in that business area but we many other areas of growth such as in onshore wind and in solar and we are very interested to pursue those opportunities as well in addition to ventures we will also look at other energy solutions and look at more business development opportunities. “
While the venture will add to its existing oil and gas portfolio, Svegården was insistent the move would not take away from its existing oil and gas business.
She said there was a “strong strategy” in Statoil and said the company “believe” in oil and gas.
But she said the operator was always keen to utilise new energy solutions.
As for the amount to be invested in any new ventures, Svegården said it will vary from shares of between 10% and 30%.
Statoil said it always plans to take a minority position in companies, also looking at co-venturing with other companies.
Svegården said: “It will be quite wide ranging, between 10 and 30% would be the preferred position, we will not take a majority position but we will have quite a big flexibility, we’re also looking to co-invest with other companies.
We have a global scope which gives us a great flexibility but we do have a team in Oslo and in the UK and we hope we will utilise this knowledge in other areas when it comes to renewables.
“We also see a lot of interesting things happening in North America and Central Europe. Even though we have a global scope, the majority interest will take place Europe and North America.
“I think the decision over location will be decided by the best opportunities.”
By Niamh Forrest
Source: Energy Voice
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