• Norway Reports

UiO - Preparation of Human Capital for the Petroleum Sector

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

Ivar Alvik, Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo.

In the 60s-70s, at the start of the oil and gas era in Norway, it was necessary to establish a legal framework and many of the academic activities. The framework was being established at the same time research was being carried out. Today, the oil and gas industry has a very broad legal framework which has been refined over many years. “I think the research purposes today are more geared towards seeing petroleum as a part of the wider society, seeing that petroleum activities relate to other kinds of activities and how they are governed in legal terms,” says Ivar Alvik, professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo.

Health, Safety, and Environmental regulations have become increasingly important, together with the society paying closer attention to these issues. The main legal challenge concerns addressing very complex technological activities in regulatory terms, and regulating them in order to achieve the best health and safety results. “This obviously has important legal and regulatory implications in terms of regulatory philosophy and that has been a very important part of the development of the Norwegian regulatory system because the framework has gone from a static regulatory framework, where you typically have regulations stating that certain requirements have to be met, to a more dynamic one, focusing on function requirements. That is one good example of how the regulatory philosophy has changed. That is something we also focus on in our teaching and research,” says I. Alvik.

As an academic institution, the University of Oslo prioritizes creating a link between education and professional interaction with the market. “As for teaching, the goal, to a certain extent, is the same: we want to educate students with Norwegian legal backgrounds to be able to enter the industry and do legal work there. However, one major difference is that there is more of an international perspective involved, both because Norwegian players nowadays have international outlooks, and because the Norwegian supply industry has become international to a much greater extent than it was before,” says I. Alvik. It is not so much of a pioneering field today as it was back when it all started I. Alvik continues. It has been a priority to build up competence, increase knowledge in the state, and gather independent knowledge and technology in the private sector.

Despite all the challenges in the early stages in Norway, the regulatory system has proven to have been developed successfully. There are numerous factors that contributed to the development of a stable framework. According to Ivar Alvik, the state’s involvement in the petroleum sector has been of key importance in achieving the success of the petroleum industry. The state is essentially involved in every area of the petroleum sector.

The creation of human capital is another aspect which enables further development of any sector of a country. Graduates are expected to have acquired a specific set of skills to seamlessly integrate into an industry. Ivar Alvik says that at the Faculty of Law, there is a focus on understanding the role of law in society and the broader social and economic implications of legal rules and principles. “Our biggest goal is to ensure that students do not just simply learn legal rules and their contents, we want them to understand what function the law performs and how it is the result of different concerns that have gone into shaping the law as it is today,” says I. Alvik.

The Faculty of Law strive for students to have a critical approach and perspective on law so that they would not just see law as the ultimate set of rules, but understand that there might be possibilities for improving or alternative ways of regulating. The professor suggests that the main thing that a student needs to know is that the state and the government have a crucial role in the petroleum industry. When it comes to contracts and licensing systems, students have to be aware that it is not a contract between the government and oil companies in the same manner as in other countries. “The Norwegian system is much more based on the principle where the government is running the industry in cooperation with private companies. An important aspect of the Norwegian sector is the active cooperation between the government and private companies, where engagement in a dialogue instead of opposition is the main goal”, concludes I. Alvik.

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