Statoil Technology Invest announced this week that it would put 150 million Norwegian Krone ($25.8 million) into new early stage tech companies this year. Over the past five years, Statoil Technology Invest said that it had put 800 million krone into startups. Of particular interest is technology around seismic imaging, increased oil recovery, subsea technology and drilling and well technology, as well as technology addressing safety, environment and the climate challenge, the company said.
The last five years we have invested NOK 800 million in companies to develop technology that can create value for in Statoil’s operations.
In 14 of the companies where we have an ownership stake we have already made or plan to make direct use of their technology in our operations and projects.
“We make investments and help develop companies at an early stage in order to mature technology which we in Statoil and other players need to solve our future challenges,” says Siri Espedal Kindem, senior vice president of technology in Statoil.
“The companies are assisted in building and commercialising their technology and they gain from developing and piloting their technology in cooperation with us.”
Siri Espedal Kindem, senior vice president of technology in Statoil.
Technology and innovation are critical for Statoil to reach its ambition of a production above 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day from 2020.
Statoil’s technology strategy has identified four areas as particularly important: seismic imaging, increased oil recovery (IOR) and reservoir characterisation, subsea technology and drilling and well technology, as well as technology addressing safety, environment and the climate challenge.
After an external management company has managed parts of Statoil’s investments in new technology companies for a period Statoil decided early last year to take management of the portfolio back in-house. “The reason for this is that we need a close and good collaboration with the technology users in Statoil,” says Richard Erskine, head of Statoil Technology Invest. I believe we have now developed this, to the advantage of the venture companies and Statoil, he adds.
In connection with the return of the management responsibility Statoil Technology Invest has also rationalised the portfolio. So far this year, Statoil has made three investments and three divestments, and in cooperation with managment and co-owners a number of strategic changes in the portfolio companies have been made that are yielding positive results.
Richard Erskine, head of Statoil Technology Invest.
The 11 top priority companies have a 2011 turnover of around NOK 380 million and an expected annual growth of up to 40% in 2012.
Early access to ideas
Although the main purpose of the investment activities is not to obtain the highest possible return, Erskine underlines that Statoil only makes investments in companies where we can expect commercial returns.
“In order to obtain early access to the best ideas and new companies to invest in, it is also important to ensure that entrepreneurs and contractors get at least the same, or ideally a better, financial upside by working with Statoil Technology Invest compared to other financial venture players,” says Erskine.
Statoil Technology Invest cooperates with a number of venture and investment communities in Norway and internationally, as well as with the corporate venture companies of the international oil companies.
“Statoil must solve new technological challenges in order to succeed in its international operations, and then it is crucial to find the right technology at an early stage. A case in point is the initiative in US onshore activities and shale oil and gas,” says Erskine.
Broad technology support
Venture capital is only one of several important instruments Statoil uses to develop new technology.
STI also has responsibility for Statoil’s LOOP programme. During the LOOP programme’s 20 years of existence more than 260 companies and technologies have received support, and many of these technologies are in use in Statoil today. Through the loop programme STI supports technology development with financial contributions and expertise without taking an ownership stake.
“We often see that LOOP represents the first contact with the company, while we can expand our involvement by taking an ownership position later.We are often involved in development of a company for a period of seven to ten years” says Erskine.
Statoil is also among the largest private investors in the leading seed capital funds Sarsia Seed, SåkorninVest II, ProVenture Seed, Alliance Venture Polaris and Norinnova Invest. These make active investments in oil, gas and renewable energy venture companies, but also in other sectors. In addition to being an investor in the seed funds we also cooperate with them on investing in some venture companies.