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Five observations from ONS 2022

The great and the good of the energy world came together for the first in-person ONS exhibition in four years. Here are some of the main takeaways…

Author: Luke Kendall

An expression of trust

Every ONS event since 1974 has been given a central theme. This year’s theme was “trust.” It was very apt given some of the broader geopolitical events happening worldwide and the ramifications for the energy industry. The war in Ukraine has illustrated the critical importance of energy security, and there was a recognition at ONS 2022 that we need all stakeholders in the energy space – including traditional oil and gas, renewables, regulators, or governments – to come together.

Trust has been spoken about for several years, but commercial competition has previously trumped collaboration. But the conversations were more serious this time. Now we need genuine cooperation through the sharing of data, best practices, and technological innovations to help secure global energy supply chains. Let’s hope that by ONS 2024, we’ll be talking about how we can build on all the progress the sector has made.  

ONS retains pulling power

Elon Musk’s interview in the opening session of the exhibition was the hottest ticket in town, with standing room only in Hall 10 of the conference center. Musk told delegates that “we need more oil and gas, not less,” highlighting the necessity for hydrocarbons to be part of the transition to a more sustainable energy future. Much has been made of his comments, and Musk certainly brought great energy and star power to the event.

If Musk brought sizzle to ONS 2022, then Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store brought the substance. Store tapped into the event’s central theme, saying Norway “will remain a stable, predictable and, not least, a trustworthy European energy partner.” He used his address to highlight the efforts of operators in the Norwegian Continental Shelf, which have helped increase European natural gas production by 10%. He pledged he would do everything to ensure the much-needed uplift continues.  

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, addressed the audience via video link, praising Norway’s role in energy security and condemning Russia’s throttling of gas supply to Europe. The CEOs of Equinor and TotalEnergies, Anders Opedal and Patrick Pouyanne, also spoke in the opening session. The blue-chip line-up confirmed that ONS will continue to attract standout speakers even after a four-year absence.

Digital breakthrough

The energy industry has previously been accused of being something of a digital laggard, but ONS 2022 showed us that things are changing quickly. Operators have been the exception and are now reaping the benefits of the digital foundations they have been building in recent years. Mid and small-sized businesses across the sector are increasingly keen to benefit themselves, with sessions and conversations at the event showing a deeper appreciation of the value of data than we’ve seen previously.

Conversations around digitalisation and the power of data have felt half-hearted at previous industry events. But there is now a real purpose and significant demand for innovators like Kongsberg Digital that can help businesses in the energy sector realize the vast potential of their information. We are experiencing a massive transition in the energy sector, and the companies that embrace technology and see it as an enabler will be the ones that thrive.

Expressions of interest

The energy industry has struggled to attract talent for many years, with more skilled personnel retiring and exiting the sector than new entrants joining it. But the combination of the shift to a cleaner future and the technological advances is having a positive impact. At ONS, we saw the emergence of highly skilled technologists – data scientists, software engineers, AI experts – attracted to the energy industry and who want to play a part in this transition.

It’s really encouraging to speak to people who want to use their skills to help transform the sector. We heard from large-scale operators like Equinor, Shell, and Wintershall on this subject, and they were all very vocal about its importance, which was fantastic. It was great to hear from some of the big names about how we can attract the very best talent to the energy sector. We share that ambition at Kongsberg Digital; we’ve almost doubled in size in just 12 months, and we have people approaching us from an array of industries interested in bringing their skills into energy.

Better together

ONS 2022 was perhaps the most significant energy event since the world opened up after the pandemic. It was hugely valuable to hear from many of the major operators and take the pulse of some of the industry’s most important businesses and people. You can’t do that over a Zoom call. Speaking face-to-face about how companies are tackling the energy transition, the partnerships they’re looking to develop, and their digital ambitions was truly informative after such a long time apart.

At the exhibition, Kongsberg Digital launched its SiteCom Trip Risk Application, which provides real-time well insights for drillers. We were able to have lots of meaningful conversations after the launch. Those are the times when you can look people in the eye, read each other’s body language and hopefully develop lasting relationships and partnerships. It was a reminder of the importance of human interaction.

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