Statoil takes first bite of solar market with Brazilian joint venture

Norwegian oil company's Statoil logo is seen at their headquarters in Fornebu, Norway, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Statoil STL.OL is taking its first step into the solar sector on Wednesday, partnering up with Oslo-listed renewable energy firm Scatec Solar SSOL.OL in a joint venture aiming to build several large-scale solar plants in Brazil.

Bruised by pressure on oil prices over the last two years, European oil companies have been intensifying their expansion into renewable energy to seek new sources of revenue.

With a 40-percent share in Scatec’s construction-ready 162 megawatt Apodi farm and a 50-percent share in the project execution company, Statoil adds to a renewable energy portfolio that until now has consisted mainly of offshore wind projects.

“The Apodi asset is a sensible first step into the solar industry and can demonstrate how solar can provide Statoil with scalable and profitable growth opportunities,” Statoil said in a statement.

Statoil is familiar with Brazil, as it already has a significant presence through its partnership in the Peregrino oilfield and as a license holder in the yet to be developed discoveries Caracara and Pao de Acucar offshore Brazil.

Shares in Scatec Solar, a solar power producer with farms in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, were up 6.5 percent at 0712 GMT on the news.

In September, Scatec Solar CEO Raymond Carlsen told Reuters the company was in talks to build its first solar power plants in Iran, joining a wave of foreign energy firms looking to invest in the country.

Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, editing by Louise Heavens