Offshore conference good for onshore too

HOUSTON — It may be the Offshore Technology Conference that has drawn tens of thousands of people to NRG Park this week.

But don’t let the title fool you. There’s plenty of onshore equipment on display too.

The ware includes forklifts, trucks and land rigs — some of which was wheeled across the country to reach OTC.

Steve Stump, vice president of Beaumont-based Stabilis Energy, said it’s a no-brainer to be at OTC, even though the company focuses on supplying liquefied natural gas to land-based oil and gas operations.

“Our customers are here, and our suppliers are here,” Stump said, while sitting on the back of an LNG delivery truck. “The dealers are here, whether on or offshore.”

“If you’re part of the oil and gas industry, you need to be here,” Stump added.

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Stabilis also visits other trade conferences with tighter onshore focuses, including the Permian Basin International Oil Show. But OTC brings everyone together.

Peter Christian, vice president of oil and gas for Schramm Inc., said OTC gives the West Chester, Pa.-based drilling rig maker wide exposure.

“The nice thing about the Offshore Technology Conference is you get a lot of international visitors,” Christian said. “It also gives us a lot of exposure to not just the drilling contractors but also the oil and gas operators — the E&P companies — because they want to see something new and what’s happening in the industry as well.”

By midday Wednesday, at least 400 OTC attendees had climbed up stairs into Schramm’s T250XD rig, hauled from Pennsylvania  for the show. Unlike conventional rigs, which require a worker to perch high atop the derrick to guide drill pipe, Schramm’s design allows the operator to do the same work from the control room.

Once at the top, the visitors get a look at other land rigs sprawled outside NRG Center — including equipment that still requires a roughneck to work on top of the derrick tower. Christian said it’s an instant advantage.

“A lot of younger guys — drilling engineers — who have come to see the rig are really enthusiastic about the changes and having new ways to drill and safer ways to drill and still have high performance,” Christian said. “So you can see some of these guys taking their thinking back to the office. And they may be future decision makers.”

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Exhibiting at OTC also helps companies seeking to expand their foothold in the oil and gas industry — or even market their equipment to the sector for the first time.

For instance, Manitou Group is at the conference showing off some of its lifting equipment, including a telescopic handler with interchangeable parts and a forklift. Being at OTC allows the West Bend, Wis.-based company to continue focusing on energy markets with products that are also marketed to other sectors, said district sales manager Kevin Caldwell.

RG Petro-Machinery Group is displaying its 350-horsepower rig — suitable for doing well workover. The Chinese company, which has sold 200 rigs in the U.S. since 2005, has been attending the OTC for years, said Evan Lee, the America marketing director.

It may be an offshore gathering, Lee said, but the scale of the conference means plenty of companies with representatives at OTC are interested in onshore equipment.