OTC 2013: A journey through the ‘energy capital of the world’

OTC attendees at the Reliant parkOscarline Onwuemenyi

01 June 2013, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, 2013 offered yet another opportunity for industry leaders to converge on the city Houston, considered by many to be the ‘Energy Capital of the World’. The sunny city of Houston which is also called ‘Space City’ signifying the city’s global importance to space exploration and historical role as a prominent center of activity by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, is a tourist delight with globally acclaimed expansive roads and maze of bridges and road networks, and other historical sites, especially as regards oil and gas production. The city is a leading domestic and international center for virtually every segment of the oil and gas industry—exploration, production, transmission, marketing, service, supply, offshore drilling, and technology.

Houston, which is the biggest city in the state of Texas, dominates U.S. oil and gas exploration and production and is unrivaled in the American energy industry. It is home to more than 5,000 energy-related firms. Houston is also home to 13 of the nation’s 20 largest natural gas transmission companies, 600 exploration and production firms and more than 170 pipeline operators. More importantly to this writer, Houston also hosts the annual Offshore Technology Conference which is the world’s largest energy-related trade show.

The conference, now in its 45th year, runs every year around the month of May at the Reliant Park in Houston. The fact that this conference has run for so long and very successfully is no surprise given that there are more energy-related jobs in Houston than in any other city on earth. Upwards of 200,000 in the business itself (Exploration and Production, Midstream, Refining) – this does not include the thousands of oilfield service industry jobs at companies like Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger. All of the major oil and gas companies have thousands of employees in the city, and many of the larger independent producers are headquartered here. When you factor in all the indirect and induced jobs that the industry supports in all the hotels, cafes, gas stations and clothing stores around the state, you quickly get numbers into the millions.

Experts from the offshore energy industry around the world came together 6–9 May for the 2013 Offshore Technology Conference at Reliant Park in Houston even as offshore drilling continues to be more technologically challenging for operators across the globe. Remarkably, and according to the organizers, this year’s OTC recorded the most participation in the history of the conference. Attendance at the conference reached a 30-year high of 104,800, the second highest in show history and up 17% from last year, and the sold-out exhibition was the largest in show history at 652,185 ft², up from 641,350 ft² in 2012. The event had 2,728 companies representing 124 countries, including 244 new exhibitors in 2013. International companies made up 39% of exhibitors.

“We had a terrific conference with deep and broad technical coverage, supported by excellent panels and executive keynote presentations. Technology is at the heart of the offshore industry and it was all here on display at OTC 2013,” Steve Balint, OTC chairman and general manager for exploration and production at Shell International E&P Inc.

“In the industry, as projects get more technologically challenging, they also get more complex. The thing about OTC that makes it work is that it brings together the right people — the engineers and the scientists,” Balint added.

This year’s event featured nine panel sessions, 29 executive keynote presentations at luncheons and breakfasts, and 298 technical papers. Speakers from major IOCs, NOCs, and independent operators presented their views on the current challenges and future directions of the industry.

OTC’s Spotlight on New Technology recognized 15 technologies for their innovation in allowing the industry to produce offshore resources.

Energy ministers from different countries as well as US state governors (Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina) from the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition participated on a panel discussion on offshore energy development and the need for improved cooperation between the states and the Federal government.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell toured the exhibition floor and held a press conference where she discussed her commitment to work with industry leaders to ensure safe and environmentally responsible offshore oil and gas operations.

Energy ministers and national oil company senior executives participated on a panel where they shared their perspectives on how the industry and its partnership models should adjust to address future supply challenges and what role companies and governments should play to shape the energy future. It is worth noting that Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was not in attendance at any of these meetings and sessions, preferring to accompany President Goodluck Jonathan on some other fair-weather trip to South Africa.

Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon and his wife, the Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended the Annual OTC Dinner on Sunday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Norway’s participation in OTC. The royal couple toured the exhibition floor where more than 60 Norwegian companies were part of Norwegian Pavilion on Monday.

More than 100 Houston-area classroom teachers and 200 students attended the Energy Education Institute where teachers learned how to teach scientific concepts of energy and its importance in a fun and exciting way. Participating students saw firsthand the exciting opportunities the oil and gas industry can offer.

The Annual OTC Dinner was attended by more than 1,000 industry leaders and conference attendees, and raised USD 250,000 for the Offshore Energy Center. OTC also presented its 2013 Distinguished Achievement Award to Ken Arnold; OTC Heritage Awards to James Brill and Dendy Sloan; and the Distinguished Achievement Award for Companies, Organizations, or Institutions to Total’s Pazflor deep offshore development at the sold-out event on the floor of Reliant Stadium.

Founded in 1969, the Offshore Technology Conference organizes the world’s foremost events for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production, and environmental protection. OTC is held annually at Reliant Center in Houston.

OTC ranks among the largest 200 trade shows held annually in the United States and is among the 10 largest meetings in terms of attendance. Attendance consistently exceeds 80,000, and more than 2,700 companies participate in the exhibition. OTC includes attendees from around the globe, with more than 120 countries represented at recent conferences.

OTC is sponsored by 13 industry organizations and societies, who work cooperatively to develop the program each year. OTC also has two endorsing organizations and ten supporting organizations. It is governed by a Board of Directors made up of 14 representatives, 12 from OTC’s sponsoring organizations and two from OTC’s endorsing organizations.

According to the organisation’s website, OTC is organized and operated exclusively to promote and further the advance of scientific and technical knowledge of offshore resources and environmental matters.

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