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But here in Houston, come early May, the offshore industry takes center stage at the annual Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). As editors, we grumble that the conference is too big, too busy, and too crowded (It is all of the above). But it's also a fantastic reminder of the health of the international offshore industry.
This year's conference drew 89,400 attendees (I think I was stuck behind every last one of them in traffic). This is a 30-year high, the third highest in the show's history, and 14% more than last year.
Exhibit space also set a record, and 2,500 companies representing 46 countries exhibited at the show.
"The industry is on the rise, and challenges are ahead, making it more important than ever to collaborate and share best practices with colleagues all over the world," said OTC Chairman Steve Balint in a press release.
He is correct about the industry being on the rise. Douglas-Westwood estimates the industry will spend US $335 billion in the next five years on offshore operations and maintenance and $232 billion on deepwater development.
Balint also is correct about the need for collaboration. According to a panel discussion at OTC, the next few years of offshore development will require a vast array of new technologies to meet growing energy demand. These will include the use of new materials like carbon composites, nanobots, subsea separation and chemical storage, all-electric power systems that get their energy from ocean currents, extended-reach drilling, and improved AUVs.
Additionally, automation will be important so that the more remote installations can be unmanned.
As technology advances, so do deeper water discoveries. According to Guillame Chaimin, vice president of strategy for Total, half of the discoveries between 2000 and 2011 were in deep water. "We believe offshore is, and will remain, a crucial part of the industry and be a major contributor to world resources," he said.
So let the OTC confabs continue. Just please open up more parking at Reliant Center.