STAVENGER, NORWAY—Norwegian oil giant Statoil has concluded its global PR review by retaining incumbent agency Hill+Knowlton Strategies and hiring WPP sibling RLM Finsbury. 

The decision follows a multi-agency pitch, revealed earlier this year by the Holmes Report. Last year, Statoil began the process by initiating a 'prequalification' RFI.

The WPP firms secure the $3m business after contending against at least four other networks, including MSLGroup, Weber Shandwick and Ketchum, in the final phase of the review. 20 agencies were initially invited to present credentials.

Gambit H+K has worked for Statoil in Norway since 2006, expanding that business to international markets in 2008. The corporate communications brief covers five primary markets - Germany, UK, US, Canada and Norway - along with several 'second-tier' countries. 

The review for the world's eleventh largest energy player focused in particular on corporate and financial communications, CSR and public affairs, along with emergency preparedness and crisis communication.

Once focused primarily on Norway, Statoil's global presence has expanded significantly in recent years, following major discoveries in the Norwegian Sea and Tanzania.

Among the leading contenders we have chosen two agencies that complement each other and match our future needs.” said Reidar Gjærum, corporate communication SVP at Statoil.

“Statoil has a broad range of stakeholders, and our strong commitment to openness, dialogue and social responsibility continues to present new communication needs. Access to external expertise will support our effort and facilitate continuous improvement of our communication to support Statoil’s growth strategy.”

Formed in 2007 by a merger of Statoil and the oil and gas division of Norsk Hydro, Statoil's majority shareholder is the Norwegian government, which holds a 67 percent stake.

Like many energy players, it has faced its share of environmental scrutiny, which is likely to increase as it steps up Artic drilling plans.

Earlier this week, Statoil confirmed that it had made its largest oil discovery outside Norway — off the coast of Newfoundland. 

The company is described by the Wall Street Journal as a "dominant" presence in energy exploration and production in Arctic waters, particularly in the Barents sea, where it is stepping up drilling plans.

Statoil also operates an offshore gas-production facility within the Arctic Circle, and has signed Arctic exploration deals with a number of major energy companies.

"Statoil is an important international client for Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and we see this award as a confirmation of our ability to leverage our international network to advance our clients’ business and communications objectives," added H+K Europe president Lars Erik Grønntun.