with Hein Andre Langåker, Stavanger Chairman, Society of Petroleum Engineers Norway
To what extent have discoveries made over the past year such as Havis, Skrugard, and Johan Sverdrup forced the industry to reevaluate Norway’s production profile?
The discoveries made over the last year have repositioned Norway’s continental shelf as one of the highest areas of focus for the petroleum industry worldwide. Previously, we had thought that most of the discoveries had already been made in mature areas and yet Norway made some fairly large discoveries in those areas last year. Moreover there is now a focus on the northern part of the continental shelf given discoveries such as Skrugard and Havis. New acreage is also being opened up around those fields. As Norway transitions from a highly focused enhanced oil recovery (EOR) model to new field development model we are seeing new players coming into the market to develop new assets.
What is your perspective on the shift in production from oil to gas?
Obviously oil is the more conventional and adaptable when manufacturing products for the consumer. However, gas is extremely valuable for Norway given our status as Europe’s second largest supplier. Moreover this is a growing trend and we know that gas consumption in Europe is supplanting oil for electric power generation.
I hope that these discoveries will excite a new generation of professionals. It is a fact that Norway currently lacks professionals and there has been a downward trend in the number of students opting for petroleum degrees. This lack of engineers has created a vital need for the transfer of experience from the older generations to the younger ones in the years ahead to ensure the maintenance of expertise. SPE as a country-wide organization contributes to the development of human resources in connecting new graduates with more experienced personnel in the industry. I view our work in facilitating this communication as very important.
There are many ongoing programs for increasing awareness and knowledge about the energy industry. This is very important and something we are looking to expand in Norway. SPE is also involving student chapters and young professional sections in its technical meetings in order to promote the industry among students, pupils, teachers, and parents.
How do you see Norway’s status as a provider of expertise and innovations evolving?
I see this demand growing in the subsea segment and for engineering. Moreover there are many small innovative companies which are fostered through a combination of government programs and private financing which are becoming attractive partners for the international industry. Norwegian innovation encompasses everything from project management and facility management, through to subsea and specific component manufacture for technology systems. Norway provides a strong environment for the nurturing of ideas and is also well set up to allow the possibility of providing end-products and serves to one of the most challenging areas in the offshore energy business – the NCS.
SPE has five sections demarcating the five localities where there is strong oil and gas activity in Norway. The offices are based in Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim, Oslo and a couple of years back we created SPE Northern Norway which covers all of the Northern provinces. The different sections provide a crucial connection for expertise development and innovation in these areas.
How will the opening up of the Northern provinces change the picture?
The production conditions in these areas are not entirely new for many Norwegian producers, but of course, as they move into more extreme environments there are new aspects to be taken into consideration. The major players in that region already have a degree of expertise on producing from this region and there is also a growing amount of knowledge being shared through conferences such as offshore extreme environments and “Going North”. There is a natural movement towards addressing these challenges.
I would say that all of the companies currently operating on the Norwegian Continental Shelf have the capabilities to perform exploration work and activities in the North. The competency among the small oil and gas companies in Norway is very strong.
What do you see as the main competitors for Norwegian competencies in extreme production environments?
For this type of environment the rivals would be Russia, Canada and the USA. However there are also other extreme environments where Norway can be a world leader including ultra-deepwater developments now occurring in Brazil. There is a good communication line open between Norwegian companies and those operating in Brazil at the moment.
How do you see clean tech fitting in within Norway’s competitiveness?
This is a sector which has been growing for a number of years and there is a good opportunity to use carbon capture and storage as an enhanced oil recovery technique to achieve higher recovery rates than we currently see today. As the technology receives more attention it could become a major part of EOR on the Norwegian shelf.
What would be your outlook on petroleum engineering in Norway?
Looking at engineering on the facilities side there are already several big Norwegian players in the global market and they continue to have a strong position within this market. Looking at engineering capabilities, Norway will remain an international work environmen and a good location for sharing knowledge and making use of new technology and innovation.
What motivates you in your work for SPE?
I see a lot of potential and new challenges to be addressed. Both as a key account manager at Weatherford and in SPE I am working to bring these two together. SPE creates a meeting place to build professional networks which brings knowledge and challenges together. I find it fulfilling to increase awareness of this exiting industry in order to increase the recruitment base in the future.