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Shell and Equinor develop smart inventory management system with Microsoft Azure

THE HAGUE / STAVANGER – Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian Energy Company Equinor will develop the next generation of Shell Inventory Optimizer, a solution that leverages advanced analytics on historical data to optimize operational spare part inventory levels. Building on news of the recent Strategic Alliance with Shell, Microsoft will be supporting Shell and Equinor with the co-development of the tool, which runs on Microsoft Azure.

The goal is for energy companies to have better control over available equipment and to optimize stock levels. Since first deployment in 2017, this proprietary solution has been deployed across Shell’s Upstream, Manufacturing and Integrated Gas assets globally, generating millions of dollars in value through optimized stock levels.

In March 2020, Shell and Equinor signed a Digital Collaboration Agreement to work together on digital projects in areas of mutual benefit (and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including competition and anti-trust laws). Next generation Shell Inventory Optimizer is the first collaboration to take-place under this agreement.

Dan Jeavons, General Manager Data Science at Shell, said “The collaboration to co-develop the next stage of Shell Inventory optimizer with Equinor is an important milestone for both our companies; it speaks to the digital cultural and technical strengths we share, and our history of successful collaborations in the supply chain domain and the value we can achieve working in partnership. I look forward to further collaboration with Equinor in the supply-chain and decarbonization domain, with the continued support of our mutual partner Microsoft.”

The co-development project will be run through a joint engineering team with digital specialists from Shell, Equinor and Microsoft all contributing. The tool integrates Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, Azure Databricks and Azure Datalake and will see the Shell Inventory Optimizer enhanced with new features to further optimize the algorithm, driving the recommendations and an improved user experience. Both Equinor and Shell users will benefit from these new features. For Equinor, this tool could reduce inventory inflow with as much as 13%, which could save millions.

Oddvar Vermedal, VP Emerging Digital Technology for Equinor’s Digital Centre of Excellence, said “We see many mutual benefits as both companies have applied cloud-based digital solutions as an approach to our industry’s digital transformation. Such collaborations are increasingly important to improve safety, increase value creation, reduce emissions and develop low carbon solutions by applying digital technologies. The first step with the initiative will be to safeguard our operations by rightsizing the inventory level. This will reduce the inventory inflow and establish optimized level of inventory stocks in Equinor. The next step in the co-development will focus on reducing carbon footprint in our supply chain. Therefore, this collaboration is an important step in our digital transformation journey”.

Microsoft will be working with Shell and Equinor to the develop the next evolution of Shell Inventory Optimizer, running on Microsoft Azure.

“We are committed to supporting the transformation of the energy sector, co-developing solutions with organizations such as Shell and Equinor that aid in the energy transition,” said Darryl Willis, vice president of Energy, Microsoft. “Digital technology is transforming key industry areas such as the supply chain and we’re continuing to provide new digital solutions that support carbon reduction ambitions and advance the transition to a net-zero emissions future.”

The collaboration is the first of a series of planned co-innovation initiatives across the wider energy value chain (including themes such as maintenance, production optimization and supply chain management) which are in development.

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Biden Plans To Nominate Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm As Energy Secretary

Updated 6:39 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to be the next secretary of energy, two sources familiar with transition discussions told NPR.

Granholm will bring experience in promoting clean-energy manufacturing as Biden tries to implement a sweeping $2 trillion climate plan.

The selection was first reported by Politico.

Granholm has been Michigan’s attorney general and served two terms as governor until 2011. She was also an energy adviser to Hillary Clinton and is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley law school.

When Chrysler and General Motors faced bankruptcy during the Great Recession, Granholm worked with the Obama administration on a bailout that pushed them to invest in green technology such as battery storage. Since then, automakers have dramatically ramped up production plans for electric cars.

“Prior to the pandemic, clean energy was one of the fastest growing industries in Michigan, supporting over 125,000 jobs,” she wrote in a recent The Detroit News op-ed. Now, she said, “low-carbon recovery measures” are needed to create jobs and help a middle class that’s been battered by the pandemic’s economic collapse.

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Norway agrees to fund Equinor’s Northern Lights CO2 project

OSLO – Following a historic vote in parliament, the Norwegian government announced its funding decision for the Northern Lights CO2 transport and storage project.

The funding decision demonstrates the Norwegian government’s support for the development of a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) value chain, which is essential if Europe is to achieve its carbon neutrality targets.

Northern Lights will be the first of its kind – an open and available infrastructure enabling transport of CO2 from industrial capture sites to a terminal in Øygarden for intermediate storage before being transported by pipeline for permanent storage in a reservoir 2600 meters under the seabed.

The project is the transport and storage component of Longship, the Norwegian Government’s full-scale carbon capture and storage project.

“Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is important to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. “Longship” is the largest climate project ever in the Norwegian industry and will contribute substantially to the development of CCS as an efficient mitigation measure. Working together with the industry, the step-by-step approach has confirmed that the project is feasible. I want to thank the Northern Lights partners Equinor, Shell and Total – and I am looking forward to our continued cooperation,” says Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tina Bru.

“Northern Lights is a true pioneering project and the first of its kind offering a solution to cut emissions from industrial sources in Norway and Europe. We are ready to start realising this project that will be an important part of the climate solution. I want to thank the Norwegian government and for the broad political support in making this a reality. I am certain that we together with our partners and suppliers will make this project a success,” says Equinor CEO Anders Opedal.

“The Norwegian government’s initiative and support for what will be the world’s first open source CO2, transport and storage project shows real vision and commitment. Northern Lights is designed to provide a service to industrial emitters who can now take action on emissions that can’t be avoided. This is key to bringing real progress towards tackling climate change. Shell will play our part in making this a reality,” says Shell CEO Ben van Beurden.

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Exxon Sets New Emissions Goals

Exxon Mobil Corp. entered 2020 with a multi-year growth plan projected to significantly increase its greenhouse-gas emissions. Then came Covid-19 and criticism from activist investors over its record on climate and financial returns.

Now the year will end with Exxon setting new, more ambitious targets to reduce emissions per barrel of oil and disclose, for the first time, data on pollution-related to customers’ use of its fuels.

The Irving, Texas-based company said Monday it will reduce upstream emissions intensity — those caused by pumping oil and gas from the ground — by as much as 20% by 2025 as well as cutting flaring and methane leaks. Exxon described its new plan as consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

Like Chevron Corp., Exxon’s climate goals are linked to reducing emissions intensity, meaning less pollution per barrel of oil produced, as opposed to cutting absolute emissions. That leaves the company wiggle room to increase its overall contribution to climate change in the future if crude output grows.

“This was a company that was way behind the industry in terms of how they were thinking about a low-carbon world,” Aeisha Mastagni, a fund manager at California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the second-largest U.S. public pension fund, said in an interview. “The fact that they’re just now getting on board to announce some of those reduction plans tells us a lot about their long-term strategy.”

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Rising Leaders: An Unprecedented Opportunity with Thomas Anglero

Rising Leaders: An Unprecedented Opportunity with Thomas Anglero

Gathering virtually for the last after-work session of the year, Rising Leaders participants and AmCham members were joined by Thomas Anglero, IBM’s Nordic Director of Innovation, for an impactful session on finding yourself and taking chances.

“You are living in an unprecedented time of opportunity. Why do I say that? COVID. COVID-19 leveled the playing field. People considered experts in their fields have had their entire businesses turned upside down.

Who is to say that you are too young, too inexperienced to have the answer? The experts sure don’t. You have the opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t be afraid to speak up and take chances. The time is now.” – Thomas Anglero

Anglero passionately recounted the story of how he ended up in Norway – and how joined IBM. Born and raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Anglero charted the difficult path of “walking the cultural tightrope” when moving to and working within a different culture. Fittingly, 2020-21 Rising Leader participants represent 16 countries, and several are new to the Norwegian workforce.

As work has now more than ever encroached into the home, the group discussed how to create boundaries and disconnect, but also how to find motivation and remain driven during tough times.

Participants chimed in with their own experiences and advice to conclude an inspirational session.

Thomas Anglero

Nordic Director of Innovation

About Thomas Anglero

Thomas Anglero, an expert in innovation and artificial intelligence with 25 years of industry experience, is also a highly regarded motivational speaker. Before IBM, Anglero served as the Nordic Director of Innovation at the Norwegian Tax Authority (Skatteetaten).

Thomas is a dedicated social entrepreneur, holding courses and lectures on passion, leadership and dignity. In 2008, Thomas received the “Top 10 Most Influential Foreigner” award in Norway for his contributions, expertise, energy, and ability to communicate complex subjects in a simple way to audiences ranging from CEOs and Heads of State to aspiring young leaders.

About the Rising Leader Program

Rising Leaders, a joint AmCham-US Embassy initiative, brings together entrepreneurs, young professionals, and student leaders in an innovative program to promote diversity and connect promising talent. Through the program, participants engage international business leaders, learn about AmCham member companies, explore careers, and gain business and leadership skills.

The 2020-21 Rising Leaders class – comprised of 17 women and 10 men between the ages of 23 and 35 – bring with them experience from healthcare, classical music, urban planning, organizational psychology, immigration, engineering, communications, technology, teaching, economics, finance, and marketing. All 27 program participants have demonstrated leadership, entrepreneurial, and/or business excellence in their educational pursuits and careers thus far.

For more information about the program, or to learn how your organization can get involved, please contact Madeleine Brekke.

Past Rising Leader Events

Rising Leaders: Core Values and Coincidences

Rising Leaders participants visited Accenture Norway’s headquarters where they were welcomed by Managing Director and Head of Accenture Technology, Torbjørn Eik-Nes. As the first in-person company visit in many months since the pandemic, participants were eager to absorb Eik-Nes’ career insights and professional guidance.

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Rising Leaders: Never-Ending Missions

Rising Leaders participants and AmCham members were joined by Lars Erik Grønntun, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Kahoot! who shared his leadership experience and thoughts on building highly innovative yet resilient teams.

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AmCham Financial Forum: Evolving Advice & Partnerships

AmCham Financial Forum: Evolving Advice & Partnerships

AmCham Norway’s Financial Forum gathered virtually last week for the final session of 2020. Special member presenter Richard Stott, founding partner and CEO at Connectum Capital Management, outlined how financial advice is changing in light of the “Norwegian dilemma” within saving and investment culture.

With 25+ years of experience, Stott expertly compared traditional financial advice – where investors relied exclusively upon bank, insurance company and fund manager guidance – to evolved, forward-looking relationships between independent, specialized advisors and increasingly well-informed clients. “No one truly understands the complexity of financial markets. If uncertainty didn’t exist, returns wouldn’t be possible,” he iterated.

Forum participants eagerly engaged Stott on OTP risk profiles, ESG investments, state vs. personal savings reliance, and reputable Norwegian market resources throughout the session. Currently, Connectum is the only investment advisory firm in Norway certified by the Center for Fiduciary Excellence, which conducts third party audit of investment advisers in accordance with global standards.

Presenters

Richard Stott

Founding Partner and CEO

Julie Hellberg

Senior Strategic Partnership Manager

Kathy Chang

Head of Fintech Partnerships

DNB's Strategic Partnerships

In contrast to Stott’s insights, DNB’s Senior Strategic Partnership Manager Julie Hellberg and Head of Fintech Partnerships Kathy Chang then outlined how their team assesses potential partners in accordance with the bank’s five verticals and strategic models. Fellow banks, fintech companies, big tech, startups and non-financial firms are each potential DNB vendors, distributors, co-developers, co-owners and M&A prospects.

Detailing financial/tech industry partnerships and overlaps, both within DNB and externally, the pair strongly agreed that increasingly informed customers – combined with enhanced financial services price transparency – means intensified competition. “Banks’ significant infrastructure,” noted one participant, is an irrefutable and enduring competitive advantage.

About the Finacial Forum

The AmCham Financial Forum is a platform that gives financial leaders the opportunity to interact, share best practices, and learn from each other – building a better understanding of what it takes to run a successful international finance department in Norway. 

Our next Financial Forum is currently being planned – for interest in participating, please contact Madeleine Brekke.

Previous Finacial Forums

AmCham Financial Forum: IPO Frenzy and Transparent Compensation

Leaders gathered at KPMG Norway’s downtown offices for AmCham’s quarterly Financial Forum. Reflecting on his own observations over the past years’ “Norwegian IPO Frenzy,” our forum was kicked off by Geir Bjørlo, Partner at Corporate Communications. With 100 listings since 2020, the pace has now slowed to only a handful due to current uncertainty.

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In a Biden Administration, Multilateral Trade Deals Make Sense

In a Biden Administration, Multilateral Trade Deals Make Sense

On December 9, AmChams Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden hosted a 2020 election results and preview of the Biden-Harris administration webinar with veteran White House correspondent Jon Decker.

As the US prepares for the January 20th presidential inauguration, Decker detailed how recent electoral results reveal states’ shifting political balance – and prospects for bi-partisan collaboration both in and with the still developing 117th Congress.

Decker and AmCham leads jointly examined new administration priorities within foreign policy, energy, corporate tax rates, work visas, manufacturing, agriculture, finance and healthcare. “Joe Biden campaigned on an aggressive climate agenda – it orders the US back into the Paris Climate Agreement. That will happen within Biden’s first 100 days in office,” projected Decker. “I have no doubt.”

Further, “when you consider the people that have already been named as a part of the Biden foreign policy team, including Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, multilateral trade deals make sense,” continued Decker, with emphasis on renewed TPP and TTIP efforts.

More on the 2020 US Elections

POLL-Norway’s central bank to keep policy rate at zero on Dec. 17

OSLO, Dec 8 (Reuters) – Norway’s central bank will leave its key interest rate unchanged next week at a record low of 0% as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hamper the economy, a Reuters poll of economists forecast on Tuesday.

The 23 participants in the poll were unanimous in predicting no change to the policy rate when the outcome is announced on Dec. 17.

Norges Bank has cut rates three times this year and said last month it planned to keep rates on hold until the economy showed clear signs of revival from the pandemic.

The policy committee is due to update forecasts for the economy and future rates next week, with economists on average pencilling in a policy hike in the second quarter of 2022.

That would be an earlier hike than the central bank’s own prediction so far of a hike in late 2022.

“Uplifting vaccine news gives hope for a faster normalization of the Norwegian economy than previously thought,” Nordea Markets said in a note to clients.

“With a normalization of the economy six months earlier than expected, it is reasonable to assume that the first rate hike will also be expedited by six months … In that case, we could see the first rate hike in Norway during the first quarter of 2022,” Nordea said.

A boom in house prices, driven by record low mortgage rates, was also a factor likely to bring a policy tightening closer, economists said. 

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Norway launches major wind power research centre

Today the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tina Bru, announced an investment of 120 million NOK (11.3 million EUR) in a new wind power research centre in Norway.

The NorthWind research centre will be at the cutting edge, working on innovations to make wind power cheaper, more efficient, and more sustainable. One of the centre’s main priorities will be offshore wind research.

“Rapid growth in offshore wind power internationally offers great opportunities for Norwegian businesses. Research and development is crucial to secure lower costs, less environmental impact and improved operating models for such projects. I believe a longterm research centre with industry partners, the research community and the government will contribute to further development of offshore wind power in Norway”, said Tina Bru, Norway’s Petroleum and Energy Minister.

Northwind will bring together over 50 partners from research institutions and industry all around the world.

It will be led by the research institute SINTEF, with partners NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), NINA (the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research), NGI (Norwegian Geotechnical Institute) and UiO (University of Oslo).

“The Centre’s innovations will benefit Norwegian industry and the world at large, said Alexandra Bech Gjørv, CEO of SINTEF. Offshore wind has the potential to meet the world’s electricity needs many times over and innovations cutting its costs will help bring this renewable energy to the market even faster.”

The centre will draw on Norwegian research and industry’s long-standing expertise in offshore projects. “It will provide an important launching pad for students of the field aiming to become the experts of tomorrow”, said the rector of NTNU, Anne Borg.

NorthWind is financed by the Norwegian government through The Research Council of Norway. NorthWind will be a Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (FME) and will be in operation from 2020 to 2028.

The Centres for Environment-friendly Energy Research carry out long-term research targeted towards renewable energy, energy efficiency, CCS and social science aspects of energy research.

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Research partners:

SINTEF, NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), NINA (The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research), NGI (Norwegian Geotechnical Institute) and UiO (University of Oslo).

International associated partners:

DTU, TNO, Fraunhofer, University of Strathclyde, NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) and North China Electric Power University

Industry partners:

  • 4Subsea
  • ABB
  • Aker Offshore Wind
  • Amon
  • Aibel
  • Baker Hughes
  • Cognite
  • DNV-GL
  • Dr. Techn. Olav Olsen
  • Dof Subsea Norway
  • EDR Medeso
  • Energi Norge
  • Energy Innovation
  • Equinor
  • ESVAGT
  • Finnmark Kraft
  • Force Technology Norway
  • Fred Olsen Renewables
  • Fugro
  • GFMS
  • Hafslund Eco
  • Havyard Design &Solutions
  • Hitachi ABB Power Grids
  • Impello
  • Kongsberg Maritime
  • Lundin Energy Norway
  • Lloid’s Register
  • Nexans Norway
  • NKT HV Cables
  • National Oilwell Varco Norway
  • NORWEP Norwegian Energy Partners
  • Norconsult
  • NorSea Group
  • NORWEA
  • Norwegian Offshore wind cluster
  • RENERGY cluster
  • SAP Norway
  • Sogn og Fjordane Energi
  • Statkraft
  • Store Norske Spitsbergen Kullkompani
  • Sval Energi
  • Trønder Energi Kraft
  • Vard Design
  • Windcluster Norway

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Norway’s push for a change to ‘bad deal’ with EU – POLITICO

As Norway heads toward an election, its Euroskeptics are on a roll. 

The Center Party, the Nordic country’s most European Union-unfriendly mainstream party, is topping opinion polls ahead of the 2021 ballot, winning over voters with a message that Norway needs to put more political distance between itself and Brussels.

Although Norway is not a member of the EU, it has pretty much the closest relationship with it of any non-member. It struck a deal in 1994 to follow a swath of the bloc’s rules, and pay billions of euros in grants for access to the single market.

The Center Party wants a new, looser deal, and its energetic pursuit of a reset has put future relations with Brussels back in the center of the political debate. 

“We need to discuss the alternatives,” said Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, a Center Party lawmaker and spokesperson on EU relations. “The deal we have now is a bad one.”

For the EU, a flare-up in Norway would be just the latest instability to hit its relations with its northern frontiers. 

The U.K. is engaged in a tortuous retreat, while Scotland plots independence and a potential return. In Scandinavia, Sweden and mainland Denmark remain members of the EU but continue to dodge the monetary union. A decade ago, Iceland requested EU membership then changed its mind. 

Norway’s agreement — the European Economic Area Agreement — allowed the country to retain more control over key parts of its economy, particularly its fishing grounds, but forced it to follow big chunks of EU policy over which, as a non-member, it has no say.

It is dissatisfaction with this ever-evolving — new rules from the EU are also passed down to Oslo — outsourcing of political control that the Center Party is tapping into. 

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