dcsimg Home grown Scandinavian experts  - Ramboll Group
     
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Biggest accomplishment in 40 years? Home grown Scandinavian experts

Looking back at four decades of increasing oil and gas activities in Scandinavia, one particular element stands out. The people. Today the industry depends less on foreign engineering experts than 20 years ago. But why is home grown talent so important? And how do we ensure that the local talents share knowledge across Norwegian and Danish North Sea sectors?

 
 

With the UK Continental Shelf Act as starting signal, the industry as we know it today was built up in just approx. 17,885 days – equivalent to 49 years. Not much time considering that it has fostered a Northern Seas industrial adventure practically from scratch.  

Today, native speaking English voices are no longer dominating conference rooms in the Scandinavian oil and gas industry - or the local pubs after working hours for that matter. At least not to the extent we were experiencing just two decades ago. To Scandinavian founded engineering consultancy, Ramboll Oil & Gas, who is employing close to 1,000 specialists in seven countries, the industry shift from high dependency on foreign experts to assuming responsibility of our own backyard activities applying home grown oil and gas experts, represents the single most impressive accomplishment of the industry. 

Unfortunately, a successful and rapidly developing industry doesn’t leave much time for reflection on how we actually got to where we are today. However, at Ramboll we believe that looking back also serves in bringing us forward and fully understanding the value of home grown and highly specialised human resources, which are a prerequisite for continued growth. That is why we have decided to step on board the helicopter and take a view of the past 3-4 decades of Scandinavian, and in particular, Danish oil & gas activities. 

Investing heavily in a Scandinavian knowledge bank

In Denmark, the city of Esbjerg has emerged as the centre of offshore energy and has maintained this position since oil - and later on - gas production began in the 1970s. Today the city's position in energy technology includes offshore oil and gas, offshore wind and energy-efficient combustion technology. Esbjerg based Ramboll Oil & Gas has been part of industry developments from the beginning and many of the company’s global service offerings originate from this Scandinavian oil and gas hub.

Keeping pace with the overall industry demand for consultancy services in Denmark, Ramboll along with several other service companies quickly learnt that occasional hiring-in of foreign specialists and senior project managers did not represent a long term solution for their clients.

During the 1980s and 1990s a local, permanent and steadily growing engineering force was established step by step to satisfy demands of a growing client portfolio. This, however, was more easily said than done. In Denmark, the oil and gas industry represented a brand new engineering discipline and a range of macro level initiatives had to be launched. Foremost, the political and educational systems had to be cooperative and supportive towards this new business sector and national knowledge centres were needed for bringing the industry players together to create and exploit synergies. As the true potential of the North Sea gradually unveiled to the public, it became increasingly easy to win support for realising the potential of these - in a Danish context - massive natural resources.  

Recruiting the next generation of engineers 

Home grown experts are not only an advantage for the clients. Obviously, a more permanent pool of accessible expert knowledge is highly valued on long-term field development or modification projects. This makes it possible to capture and hold on to existing knowledge while at the same time leaving room for on-going innovation. This situation is paramount on the projects but may be even more important when looking 10-15 years ahead.

Ramboll expects that foreign experts will always be needed and remain a valuable contribution to the Scandinavian oil and gas industry. But at the same time it is quite clear that only by creating local workplaces and hereby integrating the industry as part of society and families has it been possible to develop the industry to its current level.
 
No one disagrees that the years to come offer huge challenges in satisfying a booming industry demand for new engineering talents. But without the shift towards developing home grown engineering expertise, it would have proven impossible for Scandinavian based companies recruiting even nearly the sufficient number of new skilled personnel.
 

Significant development in non-traditional engineering services

The significant growth in home grown talent has also lead to the rise of new oil and gas related services. Back in the 1980s Ramboll already experienced a demand for HSE consultancy services to the oil and gas industry, but since then new early phase field development studies have become an integral part of servicing oil companies operating in Scandinavia. Today, Ramboll has gathered a team of highly specialised experts offering independent consultancy on a range of non-traditional services.

In particular, environmental and social impact assessments have become key parts of all major industrial oil and gas project decisions – both as a result of sound, sustainable business conduct and environmental legislative requirements. This type of early phase assessments ensure that the environmental and social implications of a project are taken into account before the final decisions are made, saving time and resources later on in the project life cycle.

Also, financial studies and stakeholder management are examples of non-traditional oil and gas services which have grown considerably during the past decade. Services like that require a strong foundation in both technical and financial aspects of the project, and the perceived objectivity of the evaluation is an important factor in the credibility placed on the study by potential investors and financiers. Ramboll’s independence from third party’s interests may have accelerated this development further.

All in all, Ramboll has experienced that oil companies are increasingly looking for more holistic solutions to the ongoing challenges faced when operating in the North Sea. Successfully combining environmental and financial specialist knowledge with engineering know-how has developed into a new and still growing part of the service offerings to oil and gas companies.

How do we make the most of our engineering expertise? 

It has arguably been highly beneficial to clients, and society as a whole, establishing Scandinavian rooted engineering consultancies in Denmark and Norway. So far this has in many ways been the key for successfully unlocking the potential of our natural resources. But it doesn’t have to stop here. Next step is of course making the most of this delicate expertise in more than one market. 

What about the correlation between engineering solutions applied in Denmark and in Norway? Offhand, many would suggest that these two sectors are representing two rather different markets. But are we missing out on opportunities for further development of the Scandinavian oil and gas industry? Ramboll engineers have at least one solution in mind which appears highly interesting for the Norwegian sector, too. 

Unmanned platforms in Norwegian waters

To meet the intense challenges of the North Sea, Ramboll Oil & Gas has, in collaboration with a major operator, developed a unique, cost-effective mono-column platform designed specifically for marginal fields with relatively small and complicated oil and gas reservoirs like the Danish part of the North Sea.

Since 1989 more than 15 of Ramboll’s mono-column platforms have been installed in the North Sea and other locations. What has made Ramboll’s mono-column platform a winner is its singular design: the wellheads are arranged relatively close in an ingenious circle configuration within the column, minimising wave load on the conductors and allowing for easy operation of the valves. Another key design feature of the mono-column is the scaled down topsides; all process facilities not strictly required for the transfer of fluids to the pipeline have been eliminated. The result is a robust, cost-effective, low-weight, and easy-to-produce structure.

The mono-column is able to operate at water depths of 20 to 110m and it may be used as a stand-alone or as a satellite platform. In several cases it has proven to be ideally suited for the development of existing fields. Like pearls on a string, an unlimited number of mono-columns can be tied back to an already existing field, extending its operation and increasing its output.  Ramboll has, for example, extended the Dong-operated Siri field in the North Sea with two satellite platforms with a 40,000 bpd capacity.  

Oil companies operating in the North Sea obviously drives the demand for engineering solutions, but the consulting engineers also play a role in making sure collective expertise is transferred and applied into new markets. In this way, Scandinavian fostered human expertise will surely remain the single most impressive industry accomplishment for decades to come.

Contact

Annette Ernst Lüdeking, Ramboll Oil & Gas
Annette Ernst Lüdeking
Communications Manager, Oil & Gas
T+45 5161 7126
Eatl@ramboll.com
Wwww.ramboll.com