Chinese Companies Flock to Energy Industry Meeting
With crude oil hovering around $50 per barrel, the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) is less crowded and the displays smaller and less elaborate.
However, Chinese companies are making a much stronger presence as the industry experiences a downturn.
"I noticed that the China Pavilion area is much larger, and the number of Chinese companies has increased. I estimate that there are probably 200 to 300 Chinese companies at OTC this year," said Torry Wang, president of Houston-based Amphibian Petroleum Technologies.
OTC, which runs from Monday through Friday, is the largest event in the world for the oil and gas industry with some 2,300 exhibitors representing more than 100 countries.
The depressed oil price gave Chinese companies more opportunities to come to OTC, which has a long waiting list for exhibitors, explained Wang. His company has been taking part in OTC for seven years.
"A lot of oil and gas companies decided not to show up due to the low oil price, thus freeing up spaces for Chinese companies. Some of them had tried for years to come to this event but couldn't get in until this year," said Wang.
Wang's assessment was partially echoed by Yi Baishui, deputy general manager of CMEC International Exhibition Co. His company has been organizing Chinese companies to participate in OTC since 2008.
"This year we brought more than 50 people from over 20 Chinese companies, much more than 30 some people last year," Yi said.
"Although there are some policy uncertainties with the Trump administration when it comes to China-US relations, I am very glad to see more business exchanges going on between the US and China," said Zhao Zhenge, general representative of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). "I am certain the larger presence of Chinese companies at OTC will bring more bilateral business in this industry."
Zhao also will meet with local American and Chinese business leaders to broaden bilateral business cooperation.
Not only are Chinese companies more prominent at OTC, but more of them are selling products to the US oil and gas industry, according to Tim Gonzales, acting director of global business at the American Petroleum Institute (API).
API has led the development of petroleum and petrochemical equipment and operating standards for more than 80 years. It certifies all products and services sold within the industry.
Gonzales said that the number of API-certified Chinese companies has surpassed that of American companies since last year.
"Now we certify more than 3,000 companies from China while we certify just about 3,000 companies in the US. It's very interesting," said Gonzales.
Gonzales said that API, after working in China to bring US standards to Chinese manufacturers, is now interested in working with Chinese organizations and companies to develop industry standards that China requires.
"So that when Chinese companies buy equipment such as pipes from the US, it will be the same as in China. We want to make the standard globally acceptable," said Gonzales, who discussed details with Zhao on how to work together to develop such standard for China.
"This is very encouraging news. It means that China economy has become a force to be reckoned with. A recognized standard for China will certainly further benefit business exchanges on both sides," Zhao said.
This year, China's major players such as CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC are at OTC.