worst, nonexistent. There is a need for better mutual disclosure and technical interchange between ONR and the oil and gas industry to maximize private investment in the U.S. national interest.

Before addressing the reciprocal transfer of offshore technology between ONR and the private sector, it is helpful to review the existing state of the oil and gas industry with special regard to technology outsourcing and strategic partnering. Specific offshore technology needs can then be more effectively examined and understood.

There are two traditional technology strategies in the petroleum industry: (1) companies own all technology, having a full suite of internal capabilities (common among major companies); or (2) companies outsource (i.e., contract out) all technology needs and rely completely on outside suppliers (common among smaller independent companies). A third approach incorporating advantages of both strategies is now emerging in the industry. Some companies are beginning to adopt a strategy in which they own core technologies and outsource the remainder. This allows a company to retain highly focused, business-oriented R&D while relying on suppliers for other support. The change has been driven by cost/benefit analyses, rapid changes in technology, a redundancy and overcapacity of technology supply, formation of strategic business units within corporations, and an increased emphasis on international operations. This new technology acquisition strategy suggests that the offshore oil and gas industry might be open to technology transferred from ONR.

Strategic partnering between major corporations and smaller suppliers can be used to achieve alignment between two very different organizations. For strategic partnering to be successful, several factors must be present: (1) mutual trust, (2) multilevel relationships and commitments, (3) appropriate use of core competencies, (4) common goals, (5) cultural and strategic compatibility, (6) integrated decision making and information systems, and (7) open and frank communication (David Clementz, Chevron Petroleum Technology Company, personal communication, 1995). Historically, strategic partnerships have a low success rate (e.g., a study of 50 industrial alliances by Slowinski (1992) showed that only 50 percent lasted four years or more). This low success rate is primarily due to lack of compatible strategies, unclear or conflicting objectives and time frames, cultural barriers, inability to fulfill customer expectations, and lack of implementation plans and alliance management (David Clementz, Chevron Petroleum Technology Company, personal communication, 1995). The same problems may surface in interactions between ONR and the major oil and gas companies.

The major technology needs of the offshore oil and gas industry (i.e., exploration, production, and pipeline) can be divided into the following subsets:

  • Environmental needs

  • Floating drill platform needs

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