Oil and gas conference taking place in Scotland this week
The biannual Offshore Europe conference is one of the largest in the world regularly attended by supply and service companies from Newfoundland and Labrador. — Photo courtesy of Offshore Europe (offshore-europe.co.uk)
An oil and gas industry consultant based in Newfoundland and Labrador is disappointed by what he describes as a clear drop in the number of people from this province attending the Offshore Europe oil and gas conference.
The Society of Petroleum Engineers’ biennial conference and exhibition — now underway in Aberdeen, Scotland — has about 50,000 people in attendance and representatives from more than 90 different countries, with 1,500 exhibiting companies.
“Very few Newfoundland companies (are) here this trip. The worst I’ve seen in years. I think approximately nine or 10 companies only,” said Rob Strong, speaking with The Telegram from his hotel on Wednesday.
Strong said the numbers are not just a matter of his perception, that he has seen the list of conference registrations and has spent time at the province’s conference booth.
“It’s disappointing. Government spends a lot of money to organize these things. It’s very expensive to come over here,” he said, putting out the call for provincially based companies and regional representatives to re-engage.
“I don’t know if people have become too busy, or — have they become complacent? I don’t know. But in my opinion, I mean technology is changing so quickly. You’ve got to be here. You’ve got to be talking to the players. You’ve got to be seeing the product. You’ve got to be watching the videos. You’ve got to be taking all the brochures if you want to stay active in this game.”
Strong said the provincial government is represented in the province’s 2013 delegation. Even so, he called for an even greater presence at the conference in future.
He said the Aberdeen conference has been valuable for him, with specific business and site visits wrapped around presentations and discussions on the upsurge in North Sea activity, advances in enhanced oil recovery, new subsea technologies and safety discussions.
In an interview earlier in the day, Nalcor Energy Oil and Gas lead Jim Keating said the Crown corporation has sent a representative to the conference, but also has to pick and choose carefully on travel.
“We have one person over there, but the focus of that conference is mostly development and operations versus exploration. So what we’ve done is where the province has a presence and where some of our partners have interests in terms of that phase of the value chain, we’ll go and make sure that we’re there to answer questions and that’s what that person’s there for,” he said. “But mostly where we’re headed (internationally) and where we’re targeted is where there’s geoscience interests and where the world’s explorers come.”
Keating confirmed Nalcor has sent staff to Houston, China, London and Calgary on specific missions to engage potential new entrants to the province’s offshore area, with Nalcor’s 2D seismic data, obtained with partners TGS and PGS. The Crown corporation’s surveying continues, looking to get to 50,000 kilometres in total before the existing permit for the seismic work runs out, he said.