Statoil ASA, now called Equinor, is a multinational oil and gas energy company headquartered in Stavanger, Norway. The Norwegian government has the largest stake in this huge maritime company, which formed in its current state through a 2007 merger of two other companies. Equinor takes safety seriously, as well as sustainability, but has still experienced environmental accidents and worker injuries.
A History of Equinor (Statoil ASA)
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Three companies make up the history of the modern Equinor:
- Saga Petroleum and Norsk Hydro merged in 1999 to form a new company called Norsk Hydro.
- Norsk Hydro merged with Statoil in 2007 to form Statoil ASA.
- The name of the company changed to Equinor in 2018.
The original Statoil was formed in 1972, and just two years later, the first oil field discovery was made in the North Sea.
It took until 1979 for that oil field, the Statfjord field, to begin producing. In 1981 Statoil became the first Norwegian oil and gas company to be responsible for operations at a continental shelf oil field.
Norsk Hydro’s history in oil and gas exploration in the North Sea began in 1965 when it began working with French companies.
Saga Petroleum was founded in 1972, so Norway would have three oil companies. The model followed was to have one state company, Statoil, one private company, Saga, and one that was semi-private, Norsk Hydro.
The three-model system didn’t last forever, as Norsk Hydro and Saga came together in 1999 and then merged with Statoil in 2007.
The merger made the company one of the biggest in the world and allowed it to engage in a major international expansion of operation. The government is still the primary stakeholder in the company.
Equinor is a major oil and gas company operating on continental shelves off the coasts of 36 countries. Although its origins are in the North Sea, and it has been a massive part of making Norway an industry leader in petroleum, Equinor has not been satisfied to stay put.
The company operates platforms in several different Norwegian oil fields and fields on the continental shelf regions of:
- The U.S.
Equinor’s main operation types are exploration for natural resources and production. The company seeks out and produces petroleum and natural gas under the sea floor. It is the world’s sixth-largest supplier of natural gas and the second-largest in Europe.
Equinor also operates in trading petroleum and energy products and in developing alternative and renewable energy sources. The company has also recently begun a carbon capture program.
Equinor’s Legal Woes
Equinor is a large company, especially in the maritime industry, in which big disasters often occur. It’s no surprise that Equinor has faced some legal troubles over the years.
The worst and most controversial was the 2002 and 2003 corruption scandal. The company paid bribes to officials in Iran to secure rights to natural resources.
The company also got in trouble when violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Equinor was fined $10.5 million in that incident.
Again, controversy struck in 2011 when Equinor consultants were brought to trial over receiving cash for contracts worth millions of Norwegian kroner.
Accidents have also led to fines and legal problems for Equinor, including a 25 million kroner fine in 2009 for a ruptured hose that spilled oil into the sea.
Worker Accidents and Injuries
Work done on oil and natural gas platforms on the continental shelf is inherently risky. Even so, workers should expect to be in the safest possible work environment where the employer has taken all reasonable precautions to prevent accidents and injuries.
These are just some of the noteworthy incidents that have harmed Equinor workers:
- One accident occurred on September 18, 2008, on the Troll A platform in the North Sea. Steel beams being lifted by a crane came loose, and one struck and injured a worker.
- In September 2009, a worker dismantling scaffolding fell more than 30 feet onto the cellar deck of a platform. Although airlifted to a hospital, that worker suffered serious injuries and later died.
- The company also suffered a large fire in 2014 when the hydraulic tubing from surface equipment caught fire at a fracking site in Ohio. Nearly 20 trucks were lined up where the fire started, and it quickly spread to them. Some of the trucks exploded, and thick black smoke permeated the air. Residents of nearby towns had to be evacuated because the extent of the smoke was so bad.
- One of the most tragic of all Equinor’s incidents occurred in 2016. A helicopter carrying 13 people from a platform in the North Sea back to Norway crashed, killing the two pilots and eleven passengers. It was not only Equinor’s worst accident but the most devastating in the industry for that region. Investigations into what happened are ongoing.
The results are often tragic when things go wrong in the oil and gas continental shelf industry. From falls to rough weather and water to mishaps with transporting equipment and even how workers are transported to and from platforms, risks are everywhere, and fatalities are not uncommon.
Workers injured on the job at Equinor and loved ones of the workers who have died have recourse to seek compensation from the company and its insurance.
You have a dangerous job if you work in the oil and gas industry, whether on a transportation ship, aircraft, or the platforms. You are at risk daily on the job from being the victim of an accident and even dying.
Regardless of where the blame is placed in an accident, you have rights, including access to compensation. Be sure your first move after an accident is to talk to a maritime lawyer. This professional can guide your next steps and be sure you make the right moves to get what you are owed.