President of Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce, Aina Eidsvik writes on challenges for the oil and gas sector.
Afew weeks ago, I met a friend who is working for another Norwegian oil service company. He said; “the market is crazy – we have to turn down clients”. Whereupon I quickly replied; “yes I know, we had to implement a queueing system recently”. I`m afraid we were daydreaming and while both of us are working for companies that are doing well, there have been reductions over the last years.
Those who have been in the oil industry for a while have been through a few up- and down-turns and there is a tendency to think that the current situation is temporary, the oil price will soon increase and everything will get back to what we thought was normal. Several oil analysts have reassured us that lower petroleum investments will lead to lower supply, which will bring the oil prices up again.
While the oil price might recover, I think the industry has changed forever this time and many jobs will be lost permanently due to necessary restructuring and productivity improvements. The oil industry will be there for many years to come but maybe not as we knew it. This gives risks and opportunities to both the oil industry itself and to others.
As we see in this edition of the Business Review, Norway is increasingly becoming an interesting country for foreign investments – especially from China. Norway has a well-educated work force, it has for several years been among the top 10 of 189 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, it is politically stable and it has low corruption. Setting up business in Norway is quick and affordable. A weak Norwegian currency combined with a high supply of skilled engineers makes Norway attractive for many advanced technology industries.
So why leave it to the foreigners to start up business in Norway? Despite having a well-educated workforce who are independent and empowered, Norway has traditionally had a low rate of start-ups and few entrepreneurs. We have been far behind many other countries in Europe and Asia. This is about to change and it`s inspiring to read the articles about Norwegian companies succeeding internationally within waste treatment, renewable energies, seafood, LNG and evolution of Corporate Governance.
Other industries have been reluctant to take on employees from the oil industry with the assumption that they will leave once the oil is up. I strongly recommend that they change their view and see it as an opportunity to get in highly competent personnel that was not available before. Give them challenges and opportunities to make sure they stay, regardless of the oil price. Sincerely, Aina Eidsvik President Thai-Norwegian Chamber of Commerce