With a forward-thinking outlook ever since its foundation in 1974, ONS was established when the oil and gas industry first emerged in Norway and has since grown into a world-leading international event for all things energy-related. With close to 60,000 visitors across four days and a 24,000-square-metre area of exhibition stands, the event promises to forge new relationships, push boundaries of innovation, and inspire new lucrative and environmentally-beneficial solutions yet again this August.

The ONS venue is full of professionals from a wide range of different
companies, all with a common goal: to get the latest information on new solutions, companies and innovation,” says president and CEO Leif Johan Sevland about the ONS experience. “It’s one of the most important energy meeting places in the world.” Initially established by Stavanger City Council, Statoil, Stavanger Forum, and the Norwegian Petroleum Society, the ONS Foundation puts on this biennial industry event in Stavanger to bring together the most groundbreaking ideas and powerful decision makers on oil and energy innovation, energy efficiency and technological development. A key aim is to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration across the global energy industry.

Politcal presence

More than 100 nations are expected to participate this year and hundreds of specialist journalists attend as conference speakers present their views on what the future holds for energy resources and production, new technology and innovative solutions. In the exhibition parks, likeminded professionals from companies operating in the same sector meet and share ideas, and, as Sevland explains, as new business relationships are forged and messages are shared between potential new business partners, the most exciting business ideas of tomorrow are born.

The presence of ministers and other key decision makers is paramount to the conference, and this year, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg will speak at the opening ceremony on 25 August, while Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Tord Lien, will speak in a plenary session the following day. A former politician and Mayor of Stavanger for 16 years himself, Sevland has attended every single ONS since 1992. “As the city’s Mayor, I worked hard to promote Stavanger and the Norwegian energy industry abroad,” he says. “But the event is important not just to the energy industry but to the city of Stavanger as well. So many people work together to make visitors feel welcome in our wonderful, intimate city, and because we insist on keeping improving and developing, our jobs will never get boring.”

40 years of tomorrow’s challenges

Two ONS parks are opened to showcase start-ups and promote debate about tomorrow’s energy challenges: The Innovation Park and the Clean Energy Park. Indeed, ONS aims to be a platform where new forms of energy and new energy solutions are presented, and in line with this mission, this year’s special conference theme is Changes. “We have always tried to be forward-thinking and topical in terms of conference topics, and people tell us that this is why they find the conference useful and keep coming back,” says the CEO. Celebrating the ONS 40th anniversary, this year’s event boasts a number of improvements and new features, such as a bigger and much-improved exhibition area, a fuller than-ever programme with both plenary and parallel sessions, and a brand new hotel acting as conference venue. Names including Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of IEA; Sara Akbar, CEO of Kuwait Energy; and Helge Lund, CEO of Statoil, have already garnered a lot of attention to the up-coming event.
“Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla, is one of the speakers we’ve noticed that
people have particularly high expectations of,” says Sevland, adding that the cultural events are just about as important as the exhibition and conference sessions, with an after party providing the perfect place to unwind and network in the beautiful harbour of Stavanger every evening. “And don’t forget: our 40th anniversary gift to all ONS participants is a live performance by Ylvis, the makers of the phenomenal YouTube hit The Fox. It’s going to be the best ONS ever!”

By Linnea Dunne, published in SCAN Magazine issue 65 – June 2014 | Photos: ONS

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