A buoyant industry

Boosted by high energy prices, everyone connected with the oil industry wants to do business, and ONS is the place for jobs

The boom conditions seen in the international oil industry were recently reflected at the 2006 Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) conference, exhibition and festival. Held in Stavanger in Norway, from 22-25 August, this year’s event attracted record levels of interest from around the world.

In total ONS boasted over 1200 exhibitors – 50 per cent of them from outside Norway – who occupied more than 17,500 square metres of stand space divided between ten halls and various outdoor sites. There were 366 stands, but this figure included 18 national pavilions which often housed smaller stands. Twenty-three countries were represented in all.

All exhibition space was booked almost a year in advance, and the waiting list for stands from companies keen to participate in Europe’s largest oil and energy event was the longest ever. Meanwhile, the associated conference was also a big success, with its highest number of delegates ever.

Leading figures from the oil industry, international organisations and government headed the bill at this year’s wide-ranging and exciting conference. Top speakers included Claude Mandil from the International Energy Agency, Exxon Mobil’s Rex W Tillerson, Helge Lund of Statoil and Norwegian premier Jens Stoltenberg.

Chaired by Siv S Oftedal of Statoil, the conference committee worked purposefully to create a programme which addressed the ONS 2006 theme of bridging the energy gap. The conference was opened on Tuesday 22 August by Crown Prince Haakon, the third generation of Norway’s Royal Family to perform this ceremony at ONS since the show started in 1974.

In addition to the conference, exhibition and festival, the prestigious ONS innovation awards were also announced for the first time at a lunchtime event on 23 August. Odd Roger Enoksen, the Norwegian minister of petroleum and energy, made the presentations together with jury chair Rolf Wiborg.

The growing importance of the LNG sector in Norway and internationally was also recognised at this year’s ONS event. This forms part of the ongoing commitment by ONS to reflecting the latest developments in the oil and gas industry.

Global demand for natural gas is rising sharply, but many of the large discoveries are so remote from markets that pipeline transport is neither technically nor economically feasible. That makes shipment by sea in the form of LNG the only realistic option for bringing these resources to consumers, and such consignments are expanding worldwide.

As a result, part of the conference programme was devoted to LNG and its growing significance, while an exciting new feature within the ONS exhibition was its special LNG Park, which was dedicated to liquefied natural gas and was the first of its kind in Europe.

Kjell Ursin-Smith, managing director of the ONS Foundation, was understandably delighted by the success of the event: “This reflects two factors,” he observes. “The industry is doing very well, and we have worked purposefully over many years to make constant improvements to ONS at every level.

We’ve acquired a real status as one of the industry’s most important international meeting places and this year’s conference programme was perhaps one of the strongest we have ever presented. All this is naturally very gratifying.”

He adds: “It’s also the result of purposeful work to promote ONS as a leading meeting place. No comparable event attracts such broad participation, with oil companies as well as the service and supplies industry among our exhibitors.”

The Offshore Northern Seas Foundation has overall responsibility for the ONS event, which aims to serve as an international forum for communicating information on the petroleum industry. During its 30 years of life, ONS has become a leading and authoritative meeting place in the world of oil and gas. It arranges a major international conference and exhibition every second year and was first held in 1974.
The event provides an arena for discussing and presenting the political, economic and technological dimensions of international oil and gas at a very high level. In recent years it has also included broader energy issues while maintaining a focus on the petroleum industry.The Offshore Northern Seas Foundation is owned by the City of Stavanger, Statoil, Stavanger Forum and the Norwegian Petroleum Society. The board of directors has seven members, three personal alternates and three alternates members. As managing director, Kjell Ursin-Smith has overall responsibility for planning and executing the total event.

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