The Force be with you

24.06.2016
Network meetings, sharing knowledge and exchanging experience are the drivers for a cross-industry forum which is refus­ing to be affected by industry cutbacks and savings.

| Jorunn Braathen Eia and Arne Bjørøen (photo)

Force seminar

Force seminar

 

Our goal is to develop expertise and technology,” explains Hans-Oddvar Augedal, who chairs the Force organisation. “We’re an important driver in these areas.”

A principal geologist in oil company Lundin, he believes the non-profit, low-subscription forum has been strengthened by the cutbacks in the petroleum industry.

“Our meetings and seminars meet high quality standards, but are cheap and usually take place in the Stavanger region where most of the companies are based.

“In addition, information is spread over the web or participation at other office locations is offered with the aid of videoconferencing.”

The brainchild of NPD geologists Dag Bering, Force was founded 20 years ago with 13 member companies and a focus on improved recovery.

It currently embraces about 50 licensees on the NCS, and works on improved exploration (IE) plus improved oil and gas recovery (IOGR). Each of these areas is headed by a technical committee drawn from eight of the companies.

Seminars and meetings are organised by various networks. Through these, the companies have identified common issues posing specific challenges and established projects across licensees.

Unique

Augedal believes the Force concept is unique on a world basis because of its openness and the way it shares databases.

“We’re a big group of companies which compete over licences on a daily basis, but which share knowledge and experience in order to improve ourselves collectively.”

He adds that Force also works to create meeting places for developing expertise and technology in collaboration with suppliers and research bodies.

Lundin has been very active in and committed to Force, Augedal reports. Although companies can be passive members, he feels they get much more out of vigorous involvement in meetings and discussions.

They can also benefit from shared databases on such subjects as drilling and seismic surveying, and from collaboration in an open forum with licence partners and, in principal, competitors.

These exchanges take place at seminars and network meetings, and through joint industry projects (JIPs). Events are usually oversubscribed.

About 10 seminars and excursions are staged annually by the members themselves on subjects of their choice. These are often specific and in-depth, compared with the more general programmes at major conferences.

“I’m impressed at how good the members are at sharing knowledge, experience and information,” says the NPD’s Eva Halland, project head and administrative manager for Force. “Our feedback is that they get a lot out of taking part.”

Projects are a spin-off from meetings. Companies which want to continue work on a specific issue form a JIP and report to a dedicated management committee.

According to Halland, Force has become stronger over the recent past despite downsizing and cutbacks in the Norwegian industry.

Collaboration

An example of its seminar activities is Joining Forces, a programme which aims to encourage collaboration and communication between the petroleum sector and Norwegian scientists.

The aim is valuable research and development projects, Augedal explains. “We want to promote our IE and IOGR priorities in line with the goals of our two technical committees.”

Through discussion fora, panel debates and opportunities for network building, this seminar compares future company needs with the expertise, specialities and plans of the research teams.

“The idea is to update members on existing research activities and to give them an understanding of what the various departments and institutes do,” says Augedal.

Future

Force also wants to motivate young people to seek a future in the industry through a project called Ring – which stands for science, inspiration, industry and happiness.

Led from the start by former Statoil staffer Kjell-Sigve Lervik, this venture was initiated and supported financially by Force.

It runs an annual workshop with exhibits and talks by member companies to stimulate and inspire upper secondary school pupils to study science, and to show why these subjects are important.

The project will continue after 2017 as part of the school system, Augedal reports. “Six-nine years pass between 16-year-olds choosing their subjects and finally graduating as engineers.

“It’s important to maintain initiatives on recruitment to the sciences and to professions needed by society, even if the labour market fluctuates.”

A preliminary Force assessment of a careers advisory centre in the Stavanger region has found that establishing such a facility should be studied.

This conclusion is based on the facts gathered about society’s requirements and young people’s educational choices, says Augedal.

In his view, a centre of this kind must differ from other measures by meeting the needs of its target audience for insight into and advice on the options available to them.

Rogaland county council, which embraces Stavanger, and the Ring project are pressing hard to achieve this goal, reports Halland. “A careers advisory centre could fill a very important need which has so far been relatively unmet.”