Tuesday was Walid Nasr’s first time as an exhibitor at NAPE, the hub of wheeling and dealing in the oil and gas industry for the past 20 years.
He was ready, armed with business cards, copies of his proposal and answers to any prospective questions.
“We are hoping to get interest, and hoping they will bid,” he said.
Nasr, who works for Lebanon’s Ministry of Energy and Water, was seeking international investors for potential development.
Elsewhere at the George R. Brown Convention Center, representatives of more than 20 countries were doing the same, as the NAPE Winter Conference — formerly known as the North American Prospect Expo — opened with an international show, which continues through Wednesday.
The business conference begins Wednesday, and the traditional expo will be Thursday and Friday. In all, organizers said 47 countries will be represented during the week.
The expo is the heart of NAPE, drawing people from major oil companies, tiny independents and everything in between trying to make deals to buy, sell and trade properties.
About 18,000 people are expected, up slightly from last year.
And although North American shale plays have drawn a lot of attention over the past two years, the international show suggests the increasingly global nature of the business.
Global oil and gas capital expenditures are expected to reach $1.2 trillion in 2013, up 15 percent from $1.03 trillion in 2012, according to an analysis by GlobalData.
You can’t always gauge the success of your time at NAPE immediately, said Marty Schardt, executive vice president of the American Association of Professional Landmen, one of the convention sponsors. Sometimes an introduction results in a sale or a merger months later, he said.
But many in the crowd Tuesday were looking for action.
John Blair hoped to find investment opportunities for his company, 3Legs Resources, a European company with offices in Cypress and Denver.
There were plenty of opportunities to check out Tuesday, although nothing on the scale of what attendees will find later in the week.
Schardt said the exposition began featuring international plays separately last year, to allow them more attention.
There were booths for Australia and several Canadian provinces, all with long-established oil and gas infrastructure. Others spotlighted Peru, Ecuador, Suriname, Jamaica and Greenland, countries still working to establish their industries.
Jifon Francis, deputy manager of the Petroleum Information Center for Cameroon’s National Hydrocarbons Center, was trying to drum up interest for five blocks the country has up for bid.
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While 20 international companies already work there, Cameroon is hoping to attract more with the new blocks.
Bidding will close June 14, and Francis was optimistic. “It’s not that difficult to get their attention,” he said.
But pitching is an art, as anyone who has spent much time at NAPE knows.
Steve Brachman, exploration manager at Petro-Hunt, offered tips last month during a forum sponsored by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
Know your audience, he advised his audience as he talked them through preparing for “the expo thing.”
‘Tell your story’
“What do you do? You talk as fast as humanly possible and try to tell your story,” Brachman said.
He recommended preparing 30-second, five-minute and full presentations, with the knowledge that you’ll seldom give the full presentation.
And he offered one more bit of advice.
While NAPE is known for big deals, not everything sells.
“Your job at NAPE is to get them through the door,” Brachman said.