Force: Sharing information benefits all parties

Offshore staff

OSLO, Norway – For 20 years, oil companies and authorities have met on excursions, for lunch meetings and seminars to discuss how to increase oil recovery and streamline exploration. The conclusion is that sharing information benefits all parties.

This is in line with the ambition of the Force collaboration forum, which is to “play an important role in future value creation on the Norwegian shelf.” The goal is to facilitate cooperation between companies, authorities, and expert communities.

“It is impressive that Force is still going strong. This is probably because the forum is still relevant and pertinent,” says Dag Bering, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) geologist who originally conceived the idea that led to Force. When it started, Force consisted of 13 companies, the NPD, and the Research Council of Norway. At the time, Force only addressed issues relating to improved recovery.

The collaboration forum is now, as then, for companies that are qualified as licensees on the Norwegian shelf. As of today, nearly 50 companies have joined.

Its primary focus areas are improved exploration and improved oil and gas recovery.

Each area is led by a technical committee with members from eight companies, while many of the seminars and meetings are organized by various network groups. Joint industry projects (JIPs) are another collaborative arena – here the companies identify joint issues with specific challenges and establish projects across production licenses.

“Member companies pay about NOK 40,000 [$4,645] per year and there is, in principle, a ‘zero budget.’ The funds are spent on administration and joint activities,” says Eva Halland, who is an NPD geologist and chair of the Force secretariat.

The NPD also participates in Force – both as a member, secretariat and accountant; 1.5 full-time equivalents have been allocated for secretariat tasks.

“Most activities take place in our offices in Stavanger. But we encourage the companies to take the lead on other aspects; they are the ones who have to take responsibility for raising topics and issues,” says Eva Halland.

And this they do; Halland is often surprised at how open they are, and how much they share, when they meet at seminars and lunch meetings. This is most likely a recognition of the fact that the more you share, the more others will share in return. And the activity level has been rising in recent years:

“After we restructured the work in 2012, Force has gained a second wind. The committees are working well, and the activities are generally full and have waiting lists. Some of the seminars are also transmitted via video. The discussions are open, participants are active and people tell us they feel the activities are valuable,” says Halland, who admits that she is sometimes impressed with what brings people in: “The topics are often very specific and can be fairly narrow. For example, we had a two-day seminar on biostratigraphy that was very well-attended. No-one else delves into the details like that, the major conferences are usually much more general.”

The activities organized by non-commercial Force are also immune to the cutbacks and savings measures in the oil industry.

But does Force contribute to improved exploration and recovery of more oil and gas on the shelf? Halland believes it does. Because good discussions and sharing of knowledge and experience motivate people and make them more aware – which in turn affects the jobs they do.


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