Sunday, May 3, 2009

OTC.09 Highlights

This week Houston will host the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), one of the world’s largest oil and gas conferences and trade shows. The event is anticipating an estimated 70,000 attendees from over 100 countries.[i]

Things have changed drastically since last years conference, with oil down from $100+ a barrel to around $50 a barrel and worldwide demand lagging in the midst of the economic slowdown so the conference should prove interesting.

The week’s agenda includes technical sessions, luncheon speakers, policy discussions, a young professionals program and a technical exhibit. One of the industry’s recent marvels, Shell’s Perdido Platform, will be showcased this year at OTC. The Perdido platform is floating in 8,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico 200 miles south of Freeport, TX. Last year Perdido drilled and completed the world’s deepest offshore well, nearly 2 miles below the water surface. [ii]

A few of the technical innovations of Perdido include minimizing the weight and size of the platform by setting strict weight limits, utilizing fewer risers than average, including both processing and living space on the same deck and using an innovative approach to separate water from oil and gas at the low pressure sea floor making it easier to pump the hydrocarbons. Interestingly, when Shell acquired the lease in 1996 from the Minerals Mgmt Service, the technology didn’t exist to install a platform in that deep of water. Lessons learned from its design and deployment will be included in some of technical sessions planned for the week at OTC.[iii]

In addition to the focus on technical developments, OTC will also hold a full day program, The Next Wave, on Wednesday for young professionals working in the industry. What began as a half day program two years ago has grown into a full day session with a keynote address this year from retired Shell President John Hoffmeister, a panel discussion, lunch and afternoon breakout session. The theme of this year’s program will be "Dispelling Myths, Informing People, and Creating Ambassadors for Our Industry" and will tackle issues such as the future of oil and gas prices, the environmental impact of the industry, US energy policies and career development in a renewable world. The Next Wave is only $40 so if you plan to be in Houston on Wednesday, you should check it out.

For more info on this year’s OTC, visit

[i] Neilsen, J. “Offshore Technology Conference draws thousands”, Houston Chronicle. May 1, 2009. URL:
[ii] Hays, K. “Shell Perdido Platform Offers Lessons in Innovation”, Houston Chronicle. May 2, 2009. URL:
[iii] Hays, K. “Shell Perdido Platform Offers Lessons in Innovation”, Houston Chronicle. May 2, 2009. URL:

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