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Statoil wants more local scientists for Northern oil exploration

Norwegian oil company Statoil encouraging more local youth to study science and pursue careers exploring for new oil fields in the Barents Sea.

- We would like to see the number of North Norwegians working on Statoil projects in the North increase, Statoil communications manager Anne-Mette Fjaerli told the Barents Observer.

Fjaerli spoke at the University of Tromsø on Friday, May 20 about the importance of encouraging young Norwegians to pursue higher education in science. An education in science would make them well suited to work in oil exploration for companies including Statoil she said.

Emphasis on higher education in science is a matter of national interest, Fjaerli said.

- To continue to make finds like Skrugard [oil field] we need competence in exploration, she said.

Northern Norway’s tradition of exporting young people means Statoil has had to go looking for that competence outside the country, Fjaerli said.

Fjaerli’s colleague Leif Lømo works to form partnerships between Statoil and Norwegian universities to help fund scholarships and research. These partnerships also help Statoil recruit talented young people to the company.

- We are getting in touch with good students while they are taking their studies, Lømo said. At the moment, Statoil is concerned not enough young Norwegians are studying science, especially at higher levels, Lømo said.

International employees can help fill the void, but they tend not to work in Norway for long before returning to their home country, Fjaerli said.

- If you have people from far away, some stay for a while and then go home, she said. While Statoil wants to cultivate an international workforce, the company also wants to avoid high levels of churn.

- We need a mix of people. We want diversity, Fjaerli said.

Not all foreign workers leave Norway soon after arriving she added. Some who expect to stay for three or four years end up staying for 10 or 15.

Still, the industry is heading North, Fjaerli said, and Statoil needs to recruit more people who want to stay there to work.

- We see there are not enough young people to cover the need, Fjaerli said.

While the company does welcome more employees from the North of Norway, Fjaerli stopped short of saying Norwegians would receive preferential treatment in the hiring process.

- We can’t say we would take a North Norwegian over an Indian if the Indian is better, she said.

- We take the most qualified. Nationality is not the most important … but you can say we would be happy to also have more people from North Norway.

Text: Ora Morison


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