The Weekly Reflektion 15/2022

Often the successful outcome of a project or activity has little to do with the care and attention you put into the planning and execution and more to do with luck.

Are you lucky, and if so, why are you lucky?

A quote that is often attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte is ‘I know he’s a good general but is he lucky’. Like many quotes from before the age of digital documentation there is some disagreement on whether he actually said these words. Irrespective of who may have said this the sentiments behind the quote are interesting. Sometimes there are things beyond our control that just happen to come right on the day and on these occasions, we can consider ourselves ‘lucky’. When we try to repeat the success, we fail and are disappointed and we then may use the expression ‘unlucky’. Sometimes there are successes that are not easily explained or favourable factors that are easily observable. Then we sometimes use the expression ‘lucky’ and look on jealously as the successful people or organisations just keep on getting that good luck. Some people may recognize the sentiments behind the famous quote from Roald Amundsen, ‘“Victory awaits him (or her)who has everything in order, luck some people call it. Defeat is certain for him (or her) who has neglected to take necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.”

The project to develop the Martin Linge field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea has been the subject of media attention recently. The field development was originally approved at a cost of NOK 26 billion and was approved by the Norwegian Parliament in June 2011. Production was expected to start in late 2016. The final cost of the development was NOK 63 billion and production started in June 2021, nearly five years late. The high production rates in 2022 coincided with an energy crisis due to the war in Ukraine and the consequent high oil and gas prices. A lucky break for the project and the owners of the field. We wonder whether the lucky break and the unexpected success of the project will relieve the pressure to actually find out why the project was delayed and more than 100% over budget.

The Martin Linge development follows from the challenges experienced with the Goliath field development with a cost increase from NOK 30.5 billion to NOK 48.4 billion and a delay of 30 months and the Yme 2 field development that resulted in an investment of about NOK 15 billion and a platform that was ultimately scrapped. The industry was not so ‘lucky’ on these occasions.

Will there be a proper independent investigation into the Martin Linge project? Will there be a genuine attempt to find out what happened, how it happened and why it happened? Or will this experience slip by since, after all, we got lucky, and the project will be an economical success? 

With the Norwegian Petroleum Industry focussed on learning from experience it seems appropriate to use the Martin Linge experience to learn. Was there learning from the Goliath and Yme projects that should have been applied to the Martin Linge project? What about the the learning from the successful projects that have taken place recently? For example, the Johan Sverdrup project that was both under budget and had an early production start. Do we want to learn or shall we hope we are lucky next time?Uu

Reflekt AS