Equinor's new chief executive Anders Opedal has announced plans for the Norwegian state-controlled energy giant to reach net zero carbon emissions — including those from the consumption of energy — by 2050.

“We are ready to further strengthen our climate ambitions, aiming to reach net zero by 2050,” said Opedal, who took over on Monday from predecessor Eldar Saetre.

'Sound business strategy'

“It is a sound business strategy to ensure long-term competitiveness during a period of profound changes in the energy systems as society moves towards net zero.”

Earlier this year, Equinor announced plans to achieve carbon neutral global operations by 2030 and to reduce absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Norway to near zero by 2050.

Equinor expects to deliver an average annual oil and gas production growth of about 3% from 2019 to 2026.

For Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions, Equinor said the new ambitions cover 100% of emissions.

For Scope 3, it said the ambitions will be limited to its equity share in any field or development.

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The company said its aims were based on a number of assumptions, however.

This included saying that "success will depend on society moving towards net zero in 2050" and on the development of a “well-functioning” market for carbon capture and storage and natural sinks.

It is also assuming the development of a functioning hydrogen market.

Renewables a 'significant growth area'

Opedal said renewables will be a "significant growth area" and the company plans to establish renewables as a separate reporting segment from the first quarter next year.

The company said previously it expects a production capacity of 4 to 6 gigawatts by 2026 and 12GW to 16GW by 2035.

It also said it plans to expand its acquisition of wind acreage.

Scope 1 emissions cover greenhouse gassed emitted during the oil and gas production process, such as from burning diesel to run platforms.

Scope 2 emission are those from energy purchased by the producer while Scope 3 covers those produced in the supply chain and from the final consumption of the operator’s products by customers.

Equinor expects to present an updated strategy at its capital markets day in June next year.