Like his father, Lars Peder has taken his turn at sea. As a 14 year-old, he took his first summer job at sea on board Normand Jarl. He later sailed in various positions on many of the shipowner’s vessels, concluding his life at sea as chief officer on Normand Neptun.

In 1996, he went ashore and started work as a charterer in the company, stepping up as CEO of the operating company Solstad Shipping in 1999, and Solstad Offshore ASA in 2002. He has been at the helm ever since.

But it was his father Johannes who created the empire on the southern part of Karmøy. He still visits the office daily, at the age of 91.

“Values fluctuate, as they have always done, but it does not affect the way we work. We have built companies, and we have done very well, even though we have weathered extreme periods in recent years.”

In 2015, the effect of the oil price fall hit the offshore industry with full force, and the family company on Karmøy had to react.

“The market remained abysmal, and we reached a level where we realized that it was no longer possible to continue. Everyone involved realized that. Aker was the answer for us. We had to initiate restructuring with our creditors, and it turned out to be a long and demanding process.”

But it worked.

Vi har bygd selskap, og det har vi gjort veldig bra, selv om vi har opplevd ekstreme perioder de siste årene. 

Lars Peder Solstad, Solstad Shipping

“The company is still in business, based on the values and culture that has been built up over many years here in Skudeneshavn. We have an active board and the reporting lines are as before. Solstad is Solstad. The difference between then and now is that we are a significantly larger company, and we have acquired solid partners with capital and expertise. This gives us a solid impact,” Lars Peder says.

He sees a light at the end of the tunnel:

“Activity in the market has increased, rates are on the rise and we have a strong position both in Norway and internationally that we intend to take full advantage of,” says the 50 year-old.

The head office of the shipowner, towering at the entrance to Skudeneshavn, currently employs around 100 people – about 30 more than in 2014. Solstad believes it is an example of company building. A new generation of expertise and ideas has taken over the office space – a necessity to be able to develop the company further.

“Size is not a goal in itself. But it is important to be big enough to be able to operate globally. We operate on all the world’s oceans and have offices in Rio de Janeiro, Perth, Singapore, Manila and Aberdeen, among others. In total, we have 3,600 employees at sea and on land.

Vi skal ta ned egne utslipp til null innen 2050. Jeg har stor tro på at ny teknologi vil hjelpe oss dit.

Lars Peder Solstad, Solstad Shipping

Solstad is optimistic about the future. Solstad Offshore has entered the renewable market with great zeal, and around 10 percent of its revenue is derived from from this segment today.

“We will continue to grow in this market, but I do not believe that the oil and gas business will be phased out anytime soon. For example, the Johan Sverdrup field just off the coast here will produce oil for several more decades. Activity in both oil and gas and offshore wind will continue to grow in the future.”

Through the use of new technology and optimization of operations, Solstad’s goal is to reduce emissions from its own fleet by 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2008.

“We think this is realistic. Furthermore, we will reduce our own emissions to zero by 2050. I have great faith that new technology will help us get there. Already around 2025, we will see offshore vessels with almost zero emissions,” says Solstad.

He is grateful for the support and goodwill of the local community, and he believes debate on where Solstad Offshore’s head office should be located has never been more untimely.

“Skudeneshavn is a good place regardless of good or bad times. The head office should be located here. This is where the competence is located, and we have added new functions in recent years that strengthen this position,” he maintains.