Industrial Opportunities in Oil Spill Response in Norway: An Analysis of the Technological Innovation System of Oil Spill Response
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Recent oil spills have made headlines across the world. The 2010 blowout from the Macondo oil well flowed continuously for three months, spilling more than half a million cubic meters of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The 2002 spill from the tanker Prestige was about a tenth in size, still contaminating thousands of kilometers of coastline. Recent Norwegian examples of spills are the Statfjord platform oil spill, and the shipwreckings of Full City and Server. Trends in energy exploration and transport show increases both in overall activity and in activity in sensitive areas. An example is the activity on the northern coast of Russia, where oil and gas production is increasing, freight of oil is increasing, and a general transport route to Asia may be opened due to the melting of the Arctic ice cap. Accidents and increasing activity along the Norwegian coast calls for further development of the Norwegian oil spill response system and form the background for this thesis. It has investigated the conditions for innovation in the Norwegian oil spill response industry, and has attempted to identify how these can be strengthened. Extensive research on the workings of the system and industry has been conducted to enable a thorough analysis of the technological innovation system of oil spill response. The analysis has resulted in two major findings. The first is the explicit definition of the market as an oligopsony. It is a market characterized by a concentration of buyer power in the two major buyers, NCA and NOFO, which in turn affects the market. One such effect is that companies in the industry are weary of expressing any criticism of the system, fearing for future sales. The second finding is a lack of drivers of innovation in oil spill response. The incentive and opportunity to innovate has been evaluated for three groups of stakeholders: the sellers, the buyers, and the end users. The analysis shows that the sellers have neither opportunity nor incentive to invest in long-term development. The buyers—NOFO and NCA—have a varying degree of incentive to innovate, but limited opportunity. The end users have limited opportunity and incentive to innovate. An implication of these findings is that innovation for the future Norwegian oil spill response is projected to be incremental, following the path it has trodden the last twenty years. To address this projection, and possibly shift the path, there has been suggested certain key actions. These key actions are a start in dealing with the deficiencies that are hindering innovation in oil spill response.