OTC enters fifth decade with ambitions in place

All energy industry eyes will be on Houston the first week of May, when the 41st annual Offshore Technology Conference gathers at Reliant Park. OE takes a look at what’s in store for delegates.

The past couple of years have been tumultuous ones for the oil & gas industry, with oil prices hitting record highs only to tank in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But the gyrations haven’t caused OTC to scale back its ambitions: in 2008, with oil demand and prices on a roll, the conference expanded from three and a half days of meetings, exhibitions and technical presentations to four, and stuck to the new schedule the following year. In 2009, even with the industry in turmoil and travel plans influenced by the swine flu scare, the conference drew nearly 68,000 delegates from 134 countries; held 310 technical presentations; and hosted 2532 exhibiting companies representing 38 countries, spread out over more than a half million square feet of floor space throughout the Reliant Park complex.

With a more hopeful mood prevailing in 2010, this year’s OTC, which runs 3-6 May, should easily match or exceed last year’s numbers. Big attendance numbers are good for networking – which extends well beyond the show floor and into the warm Houston evenings, at exhibitor-sponsored receptions all over town. But OTC’s real draw is the chance to hear about the latest in cutting-edge offshore technology, get expert analysis of industry financials and global exploration trends, and brush up on such matters as industry safety, recruitment, regulations and more.

This year, the conference, which is sponsored by a dozen industry organizations and societies, has expanded the number of breakfast and lunch meetings on offer, added a general session each afternoon, added exhibition space at the Reliant Arena, and beefed up the number of presentations on marine renewables, thermal energies, carbon capture and climate change in response to growing industry interest.

‘We are very excited about the expansion to Reliant Arena this year,’ says Susan Cunningham, SVP exploration at Noble Energy and 2010 OTC chairperson. ‘We gain a larger exhibition space and add conference space for eight new topical breakfast sessions and four technical sessions at the Arena. We’ve added shuttles to make it easy and quick to get to the Arena, and we’re offering full registration services at the Arena.

‘We also have 119 new companies exhibiting this year, and international participation continues to grow, with companies from 35 countries exhibiting. The technical program covers a wide range of technical, business and regulatory issues. There are a number of important deepwater projects that are being discussed, and many industry leaders who are speakers.’

Cunningham hopes to see the event continue to grow in size and stature during her two-year term as chairperson. ‘OTC has become such an important event for the industry and for Houston,’ she says. ‘This year, we continue to innovate and offer even more for attendees. I hope that participants come away with practical technical solutions they can use immediately in their own projects, see new products and technology that can improve their results, and gain a greater understanding of issues facing the industry.’

Eye-opening breakfasts
Breakfast sessions kick off at 07.30 each morning and run until 09.00. Tickets cost $40 per person, and advance purchase is recommended for breakfast meetings and luncheons.

Monday, 3 May: ‘The shape of the industry to come: changing roles and responsibilities’ will be the theme of a panel moderated by CRA vice president Chris Ross. A concurrent breakfast session dealing with ethical issues in the industry also takes place.

Tuesday, 4 May: Industry breakfasts, joint presentations by OTC and the US Department of Commerce, look at doing business in selected emerging geographical areas of interest for the industry. Tuesday’s focus is on Columbia, with ‘Columbia’s oil and gas policy and opportunities for trade and investment in its oil and gas sector.’

Topical breakfasts include ‘Ocean renewable energy’ with Sue Skemp, executive director, COET, Florida Atlantic University, and ‘Shell’s offshore global strategy and portfolio,’ with Matthias Bichsel, director of projects and technology at Shell.

Wednesday, 5 May: Wednesday’s industry breakfast covers ‘Egypt: oil and gas policy and opportunities.’ Concurrent topical breakfasts will look at ‘OTEC’, with Richard Meyer, president of the Ocean Energy Council; and ‘Sustaining technology’, a discussion moderated by CRA vice president Robert Peterson.

Thursday, 6 May: Thursday’s industry breakfast offering is ‘Offshore New Zealand and Western Australia: oil and gas policy, investment, and trade opportunities’. The morning’s topical breakfasts cover ‘The Longhorn Project’, hosted by Eni Petroleum project manager Marco Bressan, and ‘Development strategy and opportunities of China Offshore Construction Business under global financial crisis’, with Xizhao Jiang, CEO, China Offshore Oil Engineering Company (COOEC).

Expert views
OTC has added a series of afternoon general sessions to the roster this year. Morning panel discussions start at 09.30 and run until 12.00; all afternoon sessions begin at 14.00 and last until 16.30.

Monday, 3 May: At 09.30, Bob Fryklund of IHS and Jim Demarest of Noble Energy moderate a panel discussion titled ‘Changing the game, bit by bit’.

Monday’s afternoon session on ‘Jobs and the economy: how the oil and gas industry is creating jobs, leading the economy, and impacting consumers’ will be chaired by Consumer Energy Alliance executive director David Holt and Sandeep Khurana, an advisor to Devon Energy.

Tuesday, 4 May: Tuesday’s morning panel discussion covers ‘IOC perspective of the upstream business in Brazil’ with chairpersons Joao De Luca, of Institute Brasileiro de Petroleo, and Repsol’s Alvaro Negrao.

At 14.00, chairpersons Ahmed Hashmi of BP and Gamal Hassan of Baker Hughes lead a discussion titled ‘What is the right global energy mix? Desired transition pathways to an affordable and secure energy future’.

Wednesday, 5 May: The morning kicks off with a bang with ‘Burst! What is it?’. Technip’s John Bomba and Paul Stanton chair the panel, which includes Kim Mork of Det Norske Veritas; Carl Langner, Carl Langner & Associates; Andrew Palmer, National University of Singapore; and David Garrett of Stress Engineering Services.

‘Addressing social and environmental performance risks in international development projects: from soft awareness to hard management’ is the topic of the afternoon session, which will be chaired by Chris Ross of CRA Intl and P Snethkamp of Snethkamp & Assocs.

Thursday, 6 May: Buford Pollett of Agip KCO moderates a panel discussion on ‘Caspian Sea energy developments’ at 9.30. The afternoon session covers ‘BOP technology: state of the art and future opportunities in deep water’. Greg Carter of Nautilus Offshore and Neil Patrick Kavanagh of Woodside Energy chair the discussion.

Lunch and learn
OTC will make sure that attendees are well fed, both physically and intellectually. Topical lunches cost $50 per person, and $60 for Tuesday’s awards lunch. The midday break runs from 12.15-13.45, except where noted.

Monday, 3 May: Monday’s roster includes: ‘Geoscientists without borders: bringing geoscience and engineering technology from the energy industry to humanitarian needs’, with Craig Beasley, Western Geco; ‘Thunder Horse and Atlantis deepwater frontier developments in the Gulf of Mexico’, with Andy Inglis, chief executive, E&P, BP; ‘Energy myths and realities’, hosted by Keith Rattie, chairman, president and CEO, Questar; and ‘Upstream challenges and plans’, with Zuhair Al-Hussain, Saudi Aramco’s VP of drilling & workover.

Tuesday, 4 May: At Tuesday’s awards luncheon, OTC recognizes outstanding achievements in the offshore E&P industry by honoring an individual and organization or company with an OTC Distinguished Achievement Award. Chuck Davidson, chairman and CEO of Noble Energy, will give the keynote address.

Wednesday, 5 May: Luncheon topics to be covered include: ‘The silver lining of a recession: managing through the tough times to a bright future’ with Steve Knowles, president of Mustang Engineering; ‘Future of oil reserves’ with Total E&P CEO YL Darricarere; ‘Opportunities and challenges for deepwater’ with Shell EVP John Hollowell; ‘Are humans at fault for more and stronger offshore hurricanes?’ with Jill Hasling of Weather Research Center; and ‘Step ahead in the carbon sequestration program’ with a representative from ExxonMobil.

Thursday, 6 May: From 12.00-14.00, the Minerals Management Service presents its Corporate Leadership awards to those the agency describes as ‘outstanding individuals whose exceptional performance has raised the bar for safety achievement, improved environmental protection, enhanced resource recovery and conservation, or inspired innovation and outstanding performance by others’.

In the 12.15-13.45 slot are: ‘Caspian Sea energy developments’ with Nick Olds, CEO, ConocoPhillips Kazakhstan; ‘Conventional offshore oil and gas enters its twilight years’ presented by Matthew Simmons, chairman emeritus, Simmons & Co Intl; and ‘US climate change policy: facing up to costs and sacrifices’ with Phil Grossweiler, M&H Energy Services. 

And much more
Throughout the conference, OTC presents a vast menu of technical presentations covering all aspects of offshore E&P.

This year’s event also includes ‘The Next Wave’, a popular program for younger professionals. The event takes place Wednesday, 5 May, 09.00-14.00 and will feature a keynote address by Tim Probert, president, global business lines, and chief HSE officer at Halliburton. A reception for ‘The Next Wave’ attendees takes place that evening 17.30-19.00.

OTC will also have an enthusiastic presence at a couple of Houston sporting events during the week.

On Tuesday, more than 2000 attendees will watch the Major League baseball face-off between the Houston Astros and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Minute Maid Park downtown. The game starts at 19.00 and lets out around 21.00.

Discounted tickets are available at OTC and online in the weeks leading up to the event.

On Wednesday, attendees are invited to join OTC as Houston professional soccer team Dynamo takes on in-state rivals FC Dallas at Robertson Stadium. Tickets are available at OTC, online, or by contacting Houston Dynamo directly.

Ring out this year’s conference Texas-style at the OTC closing reception Thursday, 16.00-17.00. The reception will be held at Café on the Park on the second level of Reliant Center, and tickets are not required.

OE looks forward to seeing you in Houston this May. 

Updated information, detailed schedules and more can be found online at www.otcnet.org/2010/

- - OE

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