Offshore Drillers Take on The New
The 50th Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) kicked off in Houston on Monday amid recovering oil prices ¡ª the current price of around $70 a barrel is more than double its lowest point since the 2014 oil bust.
The industry is cautiously optimistic about its future and looks to innovation to brighten its outlook.
At the OTC opening ceremony, French-based Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said that he has long-term faith in the deep-water industry because shale drilling can only quench part of the world's thirst for oil and gas.
"The last few years we have dealt with forces that were unexpected and unanticipated," Pouyanne said. "What makes me very confident for the future of offshore and the deep-water industry is its capacity to innovate."
The drive for innovation and optimistic attitude were also apparent at the Offshore Industry Forum held on Sunday night at Houston's energy corridor.
Organized by Offshore Intel LLC and Beijing CSSC Engineering Consulting Company, the event attracted about 100 offshore executives and professionals from China, the US and elsewhere. Industry trends and technology innovation and applications were discussed.
"OTC is a powerful platform which provides a great opportunity for Chinese companies to get known in the international market and to learn," said Bao Zhangjing, an executive at CIMTEC under China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). "Through the forum, we hope to unite the major Chinese players to integrate global resources and gain a better foothold in the offshore market."
Li Ming, co-founder and COO of Offshore Intel, said that his company is employing innovations in digital transformation, mixed reality/virtual reality, industry data modeling and business process management tools to help Chinese companies get a jump start in offshore technology.
"Energy companies stayed old school for a very long time due to high oil prices ¡ª it was easy to make money just doing what they did. The price drop forced them to find innovative ways to make a profit," said Li.
With oil prices going up starting last year, there will be new projects coming out. But both the technology and ways of doing business are changing.
"New projects will have to adopt new technologies and be done in entirely new ways in terms of organization and cooperation," Li said. "We want to help Chinese companies catch this new trend."
Sheng Jigang, president of Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipping Building Company (SWS), said that while China's offshore building equipment is in a leading position in the world, there is much catching up to do in technology.
"Our active participation in OTC will play a key role in expanding our business, deepen international cooperation and expand our horizons," Sheng said. "This is a time full of challenges and opportunities."
Offshore exploration pretty much came to a halt in 2014. Even at the current prices, offshore drilling breaks even at best, according to Hu Haijun, deputy director of engineering and marketing at SWS.
However, SWS was recently contracted by Dutch-based SBM Offshore to build four, 2-million-barrel floating storage and offloading facilities, a sign that offshore production indeed is expected to pick up.
More than 70,000 people are expected to attend this year's OTC, which will conclude on Thursday. More than 200 Chinese companies from big players to small suppliers have registered to showcase their services and products.