Offshore Technology Conference breaks attendance record

HOUSTON – The massive Offshore Technology Conference in Houston reached its highest attendance level in history as energy executives, engineers and geoscientists gathered from across the globe this week to learn about new technologies that are pushing the boundaries of the deep-water drilling industry.

About 108,300 conference goers at the NRG Park covered the showroom floor with massive submersible pumps and other technologies, listened to lectures on the latest developments in global oil and gas markets and made private deals across the convention center.

That was the largest number in the conference’s 46-year history, as many of the more than 2,560 companies in attendance came to Houston from overseas. All told, 43 countries were represented at the Houston conference this week.

This year’s show exhibition also was the largest in OTC’s history, covering 680,025 square feet, up from 652,00 square feet last year. It’s going to take crews from Thursday afternoon until Saturday to break down the showroom at the NRG Center.

Looking back: Our 15 favorite things from OTC 2014

The mix of technical lectures, panels and thousands of displays at the technology exhibition “continues to demonstrate the power of collaboration from our member engineering and geoscience societies and trade organizations moving the offshore oil and gas industry forward safely, sustainably and with due consideration of environmental protection,” Ed Stokes, chairman of OTC, said in a written statement.

Greg Ortale, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said OTC is the largest convention held in Houston every year, and the region’s 3,000 energy companies assemble to get a “home field advantage” in engaging and making deals with customers.

“I just think the overall pursuit of energy, particularly with all the developing countries and the incredibly rapid pace of technological improvement in the offshore industry, is so phenomenal that people have to come and get caught up with what’s going on,” Ortale said.

Ortale said he was not sure if this year’s OTC was the largest convention ever held in Houston.

The event featured nine panel sessions, more than 308 technical papers and speakers from Big Oil companies, independent producers, regulators and academics. Big topics covered at the event included environmental protection and offshore safety, global markets, the impact of unconventional resources around the world and emerging opportunities as Mexico prepares to overhaul its energy policies.

OTC first launched in Houston in 1969, drawing 4,200 industry insiders to the Petro Metro. It was held on 38,500 square feet of exhibit space – 17 times smaller than this year’s show. Attendance jumped 17 percent from 2011 to roughly 104,000 last year.

Read more: Complete coverage of OTC 2014

The next OTC event in Houston will run through May 4 to May 7, 2015. OTC also announced that next year’s conference will feature a follow up event on May 8 called “d5,” meant to be a meeting of the minds of exploration and production insiders and outsiders to draw up new innovations to face down the industry’s biggest challenges.

Paige McCown, a spokeswoman for OTC, said organizers have already begun planning next year’s event and held meetings during the conference this week to plot out some details. But before the next show in Houston, OTC is holding the Arctic Technology Conference in Copenhagen next March. And next October, OTC Brasil will kick off in Rio de Janeiro.

Two months ago, OTC Asia drew a record crowd of 25,000 conference goers in Malaysia. The next OTC Asia will be held in March 2016 in the same city, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.