Texas politicians buttress Houston’s bid for energy ‘Olympics’

Texas politicians have united to bolster Houston’s bid to host a massive energy conference known as the Olympics of the oil and gas industry, on the eve of a decisive vote over where the 2017 summit will take place.

The London-based World Petroleum Council is expected to select the host city on Wednesday, deciding whether it will go to Houston or one of three other finalists, including Istanbul; Copenhagen; and Astana, Kazakhstan.

Some 10,000 government officials, oil executives and other global industry leaders attend the five-day World Petroleum Congress every three years. The 2014 summit will take place in Moscow next June.

Not surprisingly, Texas’ congressional delegation is backing Houston’s pitch. In an Oct. 15 letter to the World Petroleum Council released Tuesday, the state’s senators and representatives in Congress insist that since Houston is “a global energy capital” that also is “ethnically diverse,” there’s no better choice as a host city.

Like the city’s official bid, the congressional letter touts Houston’s “spacious convention and meeting facilities, world-class hotels, nationally and internationally recognized attractions for attendees to visit and modern transportation hubs.”

But Space City has other attributes that make it a natural pick, the lawmakers said. And many of them can be found downtown, in the oil and gas companies that call the city home.

“Houston has long been considered a global energy capital in part thanks to the countless international energy firms that are headquartered here,” the lawmakers write. “The recent technological innovations that have dramatically increased energy production in the United States, and especially in Texas, only reinforce that moniker.”

The congressional delegation also notes Houston’s role hosting other big energy summits — including the annual Offshore Technology Conference — as proof that it can pull off big, international affairs.

By all accounts, the World Petroleum Congress is one of the biggest. Previous congresses have been in locations including Madrid; Johannesburg; Rio de Janeiro; and Doha, Qata.

The last time it was in North America was in 2000, when the conference was held in Calgary, Alberta.

The World Petroleum Council that puts on the event is composed of 65 member nations.

Houston narrowly lost the bid for the 2014 congress, partly on concerns that it would be difficult for foreigners to secure visas to enter the United States. This year, organizers emphasized the State Department’s support, with assurances that needed visas will be ready in time for participating dignitaries.

Texas congressional delegations’ letter on World Petroleum Congress