Norway’s ONS 2016 conference mirrors upbeat mood of “an industry in transition”

In its second ONS visit, Macfab attended the 2016 conference as part of a trade mission organized by the Ontario government’s International Trade Branch. The following summarizes the highlights and key take-aways from the perspective of an oil & gas supplier


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It has not been a great year for the oil and gas industry, not just in Canada but around the world. Yet despite the continuing economic challenge of low oil prices and the equally challenging socio-political goal of reducing carbon emissions, the industry remains optimistic in its outlook and committed to adapting proactively to the realities – not just the risks but also the opportunities – that lie ahead. That was the prevailing mood of ONS 2016, the Offshore Northern Seas conference, held last month in Stavanger, Norway.

The theme of this year’s conference was “transition,” and in the numerous presentations, meetings and information sessions, the message came through loud and clear: innovative practices and imaginative technological improvements will be critical to the oil and gas industry’s well-being. This focus will contribute not only to the success of the major players but will also benefit those of their suppliers that can help them achieve their financial and/or environmental objectives.

In large part, this scenario – and the potential new business opportunities it poses right across the oil & gas supply chain – explains the surprisingly upbeat mood of this year’s ONS event. “I was expecting one of the most important world gatherings on oil and gas to be a rather somber affair,” wrote Canada’s Ambassador to Norway, Artur Wilczynski. “I was wrong.

“As I walked through the halls of ONS 2016… [t]he consistent message was one of cautious optimism about an industry that has seen the worst of the downturn. It is an industry focused on innovation, efficiency and being part of the global solution to climate challenges and energy needs.”    – Artur Wilczynski

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The transition theme was echoed in a keynote address at a reception hosted by the Canadian ambassador, delivered by Ingvild Saether, president of Teekay Offshore Logistics, a division of Norway’s Teekay Corporation. “The adjustments we have seen [over the past two years] have been painful but necessary. And most of us think, I believe, that it is not a cycle we need to ride through, but possibly a permanent change of how we do things.”

A striking example of the kind of change Ms. Saether referred to is the cost of developing a field on Norway’s continental shelf. In an article published by the Oil and Gas Journal, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) reports that between 2014 and 2016, development costs declined by a full 45%.  “This is a significant and very welcome reduction,” said Ingrid Solvberg, NPD’s director of development and operations. “The oil companies and the supplier industry have made a tremendous effort in streamlining the activities, and now we can see that these measures are working.”

What’s in store for Canadian oil & gas suppliers in Norway and beyond

Lower costs for outsourced products and services are one of many areas where dramatic improvements can be realized, but they represent a particularly strong strategic opportunity in this critical “transition” period for the oil and gas industry.

As Ambassador Wilczynski made his rounds, he stopped at the Macfab booth and spoke briefly with Joe Magyar, Macfab’s business development director. Here again he emphasized the value of Canadian business’s reputation for competitiveness and quality. As he later wrote in his article, “suppliers are looking to innovate and adapt to meet current realities.” Mr.Wilczynski also added that Norway’s relations with Canada provide a positive foundation on which to establish new business connections.

ONS 2016 “second largest and definitely the best event so far!”

  • More than 65,000 visitors
  • Over 1,200 exhibitors from 40 countries
  • 500 presentations at seven conference arenas within a 3-day period
  • 20 technical sessions drew an average of 1,000 attendees
  • The Industry Summit brought together more than 100 top leaders from government, industry and academia from 25 countries

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Macfab’s Joe Magyar (left) with Artur Wilczynski, Canada’s Ambassador to Norway