Abstract

The upstream oil and gas industry suffered an unprecedented dual shock in 2020. Suppression of demand caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic combined with oversupply caused by competition for production market share between major suppliers across the globe. Although the world that will emerge in 2021 is hard to predict, it is very likely that it will be different from the past. It is equally likely to change much more quickly, therefore needing new ways of developing and introducing new technology-based products and services. This paper introduces the dichotomies that will emerge. In particular the industry will need to be focused in order to deliver technology on time, at the same time being flexible in response to rapid changes. It can be challenging to meet both of these apparently conflicting requirements. By exploring the principles of innovation theory from a number of perspectives, this paper offers insights and suggestions to help the industry develop the highly efficient technological solutions it will need to thrive in 2021 and beyond in the face of significant restrictions on financial and other resources. It also describes the impact of stakeholder interests, including the pressures arising from environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, which will not go away despite the shock to the industry that 2020 brought, and suggests how these may be met while developing effective new technology. The paper uses real-world examples, including examples from other industries, to describe strategies for product and service development, and business model adjustment. It concludes with a toolbox of ideas and techniques that should be broadly applicable across the upstream industry.

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