OPINION: Norway’s oil and gas industry weathered the industry upheaval of the past few years about as well as could be hoped.

Government intervention helped keep projects moving and the number of people employed by the industry mostly steady during the pandemic, leaving the country well-positioned for the subsequent demand recovery.

Now, much of Europe is counting on Norwegian gas to help fill the supply gaps created by Russia and its ongoing war in Ukraine.

This summer, the European Union and Norway very publicly vowed “to further strengthen [their] close cooperation… in the field of energy, with a view to deepen their long-term energy partnership”.

While noting their shared “climate objectives”, the joint statement said: “The EU supports Norway's continued exploration and investments to bring oil and gas to the European market.”

But there are challenges ahead. It has been more than a decade since Norway’s last giant discovery, Johan Sverdrup, and while current and upcoming projects are expected to boost oil and gas output over the next few years, the outlook beyond 2030 is uncertain. Moreover, the country is home to a powerful green movement that has long opposed the expansion of fossil fuels.

Upstream at ONS

The Upstream team will be in Stavanger, Norway for ONS 2022, providing in-depth coverage of the energy industry news and discussions emerging from the conference and exhibition, from 29 August through 1 September.

The objections are bound to get stronger despite the industry’s aggressive decarbonisation efforts.

This is the backdrop for the return of ONS to an in-person event, the first since 2018, when the conference and exhibition drew some 68,000 visitors to Stavanger.

Sustained high oil and gas prices have put some spring in the industry’s step, and the traditional business will be well-represented on stages, in technical sessions and throughout the labyrinthine exhibition.

The non-traditional will also feature high on the agenda. The four-day event has long been a hospitable place for environmentalists and developers of low-carbon technologies, an ONS hallmark that will be even more evident in 2022.

This year sees the launch of Net Zero Markets, a “down-to-business arena” for renewable energy and low-carbon technologies, as the conference describes it. It is encouraging to see what once were considered niche endeavours now emerging as viable businesses.

There could hardly be a better venue for discussing the industry’s low-carbon future and the technologies that will make it possible. Stavanger has been the locus of Norway’s offshore industry for 50-plus years.

With roots that go back almost as long, ONS — standing for Offshore Northern Seas — has been a showcase for innovation for decades and looks set to carry on that tradition as the business of energy continues to evolve.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)