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Morten Haug Emilsen is head of Add Energy’s global Well Control division, and from his office in Oslo, Norway, he leads a highly experienced team of individuals who prevent and kill blowouts while optimizing production.

For Morten and his team, 2021 presented another year of challenges and change, as the pandemic continued to affect many oil companies, and the sector shifted more towards clean energy solutions.

As part of our ‘Big Picture’ blog post series, we interviewed Morten to hear his reflections and highlights of 2021, as well as his thoughts on what the year ahead will bring for the industry…

2021 reflection:

How would you sum up the past 12 months in business?

“It’s been another year of Covid dominating the headlines, setting the agenda and running the show with its inherent limitations to natural growth. It would be a lie to say that we have not been affected at all by these challenges at Add Energy, but business has actually been good for us over the past year.

“Our business is strongly related to the upstream activity level, with the oil price being a key factor for that level. Over the last year, the oil price has been up by 40% and especially the last 6 months have been good for our business. November was our best month of 2021.

“Additionally, service companies like us are depended on more heavily right now due to experienced staff within major oil companies being made redundant. Some operators have laid off around 20-30% of staff since the pandemic, which gives us an opportunity to step in and fill that gap as the activity level picks up again.”

Did the pandemic continue to affect your work and customers?

“Yes, the pandemic has definitely limited natural growth for our industry, as well as reducing the growth in energy consumption due to travel restrictions, which has had a knock on effect on the supply chain and activity level in drilling.

“The number of exploration wells has also decreased compared to what it was before the pandemic, which has impacted the type of work we’re doing for our clients – it’s more about maintaining the wells they currently have instead of exploring new ones.”

What do you believe were the biggest opportunities that arose last year?

“Clean energy is definitely one of them – we have been working on both carbon storage and geothermal energy projects. Companies who can quickly turn around and adapt to this environment can become pioneers in the energy sector and be key players in the future. The downturn has, sadly enough, resulted in companies leaving the industry. But this will again, create opportunities for those who survived as it reduces the amount of competition and number of players.”

What were the biggest highlights for your team in 2021?

“2021 was a good year for us. We renewed agreements with several of our key clients, allowing us to maintain our position as the preferred service company within our market segment. I think we’ve been able to adapt to the situation and positioned ourselves in a way that allows us to harvest from the rebound.

“We conducted several feasibility studies within clean energy, delivered a high number of contingency plans and we responded on two major well control operations in 2021, which is on track with previous years and confirms our position in that market segment.”

What have been your personal highlights of the year?

“Leading a team of highly experienced, positive individuals with a good set of values has been a highlight of mine. I’ve seen a lot of companies struggling, and it can be tough when you have to cut costs or deal with negative media coverage about the industry, but within our group we have staff who are forward thinking and all contributing, so there’s a good sense of team spirit.”

Were there any key lessons learned over the past year, and will this impact how you tackle future challenges?

“Maybe not a new lesson, but I received confirmation that it’s always important to stay true to your own convictions and not allow yourself to be disturbed by all kinds of noise. Challenges and changes will typically come with opportunities which can be grabbed by those who are forward thinking. Sometimes, with changing situations and crises, we focus on everything outside of what we can actually do ourselves, which distracts our efforts. It’s always important to filter out these distractions and not focus on the things that are outwith your control. Instead, be true to your own work, focus on being able to deliver high quality work and maintain good relationships with clients – especially when we’re not seeing people face to face as much as we used to.”

2022 outlook:

What are your predictions for the year ahead? What opportunities do you think will emerge in 2022?

A structural shift is coming and it might be challenging for typical oil field service companies to adapt to the new situation. The shift is requiring technology. I think our sector can also lead the way and provide integrated solutions for decarbonizing upstream projects. Diversifying into the low-carbon space could be keys to the future of oil service companies.

“Add Energy will continue its work within decarbonization and green energy – we’ve already demonstrated our capabilities in this space with several international projects in CCS and geothermal energy, of which my team have been heavily involved. We will continue with these projects in 2022 and hopefully pick up even more as we’re in a good position to serve the increased demand for energy which will be expected following the pandemic.”

What are your goals for 2022? Are there any exciting plans you can hint towards?

“As always, we want to continue being the preferred vendor and deliver quality services, maintain our portfolio of key clients and gain some new clients, within traditional services, but also for the clean energy sector. We’ve started this already with a few projects but my goal for 2022 is to secure more projects in this space, as well as our core service of well control and responding to well control incidents.

“In 2022, I believe we’ll see increased use of new technology developed by Add Energy, which will be implemented in the year ahead.”