Offshore technologists are embracing the energy transition more than ever, but require the right impetus and leadership, writes JUSTIN HOFFMAN
You can stand in one place and hope the world will pass you by or you could walk for days at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston. From 4,000 attendees visiting 38,500 square feet of exhibit space for the first conference in 1969, to 108,300 attendees swarming NRG Park to cover a record 680,025 square feet over the course of 4 days in 2014, OTC has always attracted global attention.
Since 2007 I’ve used OTC to arrange strategic meetings with international clients and vendors flying in for the show, while keeping abreast of the latest products and technologies being presented.
Keeping it targeted allowed me to make the most of OTC. Bumping into someone I knew on almost every aisle made for a pleasant and productive week, combined with the numerous client appreciation and networking events in the evenings.
To say you were exhibiting at OTC was one thing, but that didn’t guarantee you’d get the people you wanted on your booth, so was OTC getting too big and too expensive to get quality visibility?
Although OTC was significantly downsized this year to just part of the NRG Center, it felt like a welcome conference reset for an industry ready for renewed growth. While the aisles were far from crowded, new technologies for the oil & gas sector were embraced (the robot dog was a big hit) and OTC welcomed the energy transition more than ever before.
Some big names were conspicuous by their absence, though we’d seen that move a couple of years ago too, which led to some new names appearing on the roster. New topics were covered during the technical sessions, that were in turn represented on the show floor by exhibitors presenting new markets, renewable energy, CCUS, ESG solutions, digital technologies, and diversification for the supply chain.
Conversations were rife with what OTC used to be, but also filled with introductions to collaborations, consortiums and joint ventures looking to move quickly to fill the thirsty void.
We were able to hear about Guyana’s rapid development of a giant offshore resource, Brazil’s largest deepwater oil discovery in the world, resiliency vs efficiency, advances in digital technologies for driving innovation and transformation, big data and digital transformation, viable pathways and challenges associated with the clean energy transition, shaping a low carbon future with supplier diversity, project execution in the energy transition, advances in robotics, and the role of innovation and digitization in securing our energy future.
We’re seeing plenty of green signalling, and hopefully a responsible holistic transition to reliable renewable energy can be obtained without negating the significant contribution, amazing technology, and outstanding talent that we rely on daily from the oil & gas sector.
‘The diverse energy markets are not mutually exclusive, together they can support ambitious goals to improve our current industry and make new energy sources viable’
In addition to what was happening at OTC, industry press was awash with exciting articles about the potential awaiting existing and new market expansion, given the right impetus and leadership.
On the bell curve there are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. In bringing new products and technologies to the energy market the challenge has always been, not only meeting the rigorous supplier qualification process, but also the “fast second” approach of so many majors.
We’re seeing plenty of green signaling, and hopefully a responsible holistic transition to reliable renewable energy can be obtained without negating the significant contribution, amazing technology, and outstanding talent that we rely on daily from the oil & gas sector. The diverse energy markets are not mutually exclusive, together they can support ambitious goals to improve our current industry and make new energy sources viable.
At OTC 2021, I gleaned valuable insight from the sessions and caught up with good people on the exhibition floor, and during the offsite networking evenings. There are other conferences that offer more niche audiences, but regardless, I think OTC still has its place for now.
Justin Hoffman is Scottish Business Network ambassador to Houston