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Optimism on full display at Norway ONS conference

After some turbulent years, a positive outlook is taking hold across the Oil & Gas Industry.

Last week, our Stavanger based team got the chance to spend some quality time with industry leaders, getting a feel for the current mood in Oil & Gas.

ONS – The Offshore Northern Seas conference – needs no introduction within the European Oil & Gas industry. It’s a 40 year old industry event that takes place every two years in Stavanger, Norway where Competentia began life in 1998 servicing the North Sea Oil & Gas industry. Companies large and small from every sector of the energy market gather for promotion and discussion events. This year’s event ran from August 27th – 30th.

Last week we experienced a step change in atmosphere from the exhibitions in 2014 and 2016. After a very difficult time for the industry, marked by severe lows in oil price and long periods of cost control and workforce reduction, there is a clear sense among the companies and employees in attendance that the market has turned a corner and that a far more productive and lucrative period lies ahead.

For Competentia, and everyone else involved in staffing projects, this brings a sense of excitement, but also a burden of responsibility. Our clients look to us to help them navigate an employment market that is moving from famine to feast in a very short period of time – too short, in fact, for anyone to be truly prepared. The questions had a common thread, whoever we talked to.

How will we ensure we have access to the talent we need? When everyone is looking to hire, how do we make sure the best talent comes to us? How do we make some effort to control overall cost in a candidate driven market?

These are all valid concerns. Hiring Now signs are going up across the global industry, and while that ultimately spells good news for everyone, it is also a worrying time for the people charged with staffing up project teams. How do we all harness the energy of this time, while staying above the inevitable chaos it brings?

From our perspective, the answer doesn’t need to be particularly complicated. Planning the next six months in staffing, with input from across your own organization and from a hiring specialist won’t guarantee you a smooth ride, but it will make it far more likely you will succeed in your objectives. You can’t outrun the problem, but you can stay ahead of the competition. Like the two hunters running away from the lion, you don’t have to outrun the lion, you just have to outrun the guy next to you.

Key to this pursuit of competitive advantage is digitization. Lately, this subject has been ever present. During the down market, there is something hypothetical about the need to embrace digital disruption in products and systems; as we move into high gear, there is a sense of urgency on the topic that we haven’t seen before. While new technology is transforming operations in the field, it is also offering advantages to HR departments and hiring strategists. You can find a lot of opportunities for efficiency if you know where to look.

The common denominator across these issues is time and the sensible allocation of resources. We must spend the right amount of time on the right things. As we are forced to run forward at a pace that makes us uncomfortable, we must find time to glance at the horizon to make sure we are headed the right way.

The great optimism we all experienced at ONS is refreshing and exciting. It’s up to us to make sure that we make the best of it.


Espen Hove works for Competentia, the global specialist in staffing and workforce strategy. Call Espen on +47 924 40 995, or email



How do we all harness the energy of this time, while staying above the inevitable chaos it brings? Espen Hove


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