Gamal Hassan, CEO of Houston-based consulting firm ADH International Group, is program chairman of the 2013 Offshore Technology Conference, which starts Monday at Reliant Park. He spoke with FuelFix about the themes and plans for the event. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
FuelFix: What are the general themes for this year’s conference?
Hassan: The conference has multiple themes. We are trying to have a varied program, both by country and in terms of the technology covered. We are also trying to focus more on national oil companies and to focus on offshore safety.
FuelFix: What kinds of knowledge do you hope attendees bring away from this year’s OTC?
Hassan: OTC is recognized as the place to look for new developments in technology. When we are planning the schedule, we look very carefully for the latest innovations and sessions that will discuss how to develop innovation and accelerate technology development.
We are also more focused on innovative business practices — how companies can look at the whole business as an innovation, as opposed to specific areas within a business. We are presenting this idea not only from the company side, but also from the government side, to give a more comprehensive approach on each participant’s perspective.
OTC also serves as an opportunity for knowledge transfer between companies. It is a prime opportunity for executives and engineers to transfer knowledge and best practices.
FuelFix: What is your goal for this year’s conference?
Hassan: Our goal is to keep it as the world’s premier energy conference. Attendance is continuing to increase. Not only is the number of people attending going up, but there is an increasing diversity in the countries participating: Libya, Angola, Nigeria, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and more. We aim to make it an essential conference to attend by encouraging this diversity.
We also want the conference to be a platform to demonstrate to countries around the world how to do business in a fair way and be a leader in the world of energy. At this conference, we allow them to see it and make their own choices, but we have still put the model in front of them.
We are also aiming to spotlight the role of women in the industry, such as Maria das Graças Silva Foster, the CEO of Brazil’s Petrobras. We are trying to promote women in the industry and to attract more women, students and young people to OTC.
FuelFix: Will this year’s conference still reflect the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig?
Hassan: Operating safely is one of the most important issues for the industry, and one that we have tried to emphasize in the conference program. We still consider the Deepwater Horizon accident to be a major event, with many important lessons that can still be learned.
We have planned several events that look at the deep water in terms of safety and the role of the energy industry. BP is coming to the conference and will discuss what has been done and learned as a result of that disaster.
FuelFix: Many new countries are starting to participate in the energy boom. How does this affect their representation at OTC?
Hassan: In planning the conference, we looked around the world to identify countries with emerging technologies and new oil and gas developments. Mozambique has a growing presence in the industry, as do Nigeria and Angola.
These emerging countries have a host of challenges — they need more development for their people, including more knowledge on how to better manage their businesses. There are several national oil companies coming to the conference from countries like Mozambique or sub-Saharan Africa — they are participating, and they will be able to go back and see how they can improve.
FuelFix: What are some specific areas that you believe would be especially helpful for emerging markets?
Hassan: Two things — we hope they will see new technology and business models and that they will get a chance to improve safety. We would like to have safety improvements everywhere. An accident anywhere affects the industry in the rest of the world. At the conference, emerging market representatives will have the chance to meet with international companies and encourage them to make more development in their countries, which also serves to enhance the commercial ties between us and other countries.