OTC attendance falls again

Attendance at the Offshore Technology Conference dropped by 3,000 attendees to its lowest level since the last recession as deep-water drillers, who have not yet felt the budding onshore recovery, stayed away from their industry’s largest convention.

About 65,000 people walked the exhibit halls at NRG Park, down from 68,000 last year and a record 108,000 in 2014, when oil prices passed $100 a barrel.

Crude settled at $45.52 in New York on Thursday, just $1 higher than the same time last year.

RELATED: Texas oil and gas industry in ‘new cycle of expansion’

NRG Center was filled with blow-out preventers, hydraulic fracturing trucks, and an array of steel piping, plates, valves and oddities this week. Yet the convention, which closed Thursday, was noticeably subdued. There were fewer booths outside. Hallways allowed for easy travel. Parking lots were empty. There was enough lunch seats to go around.

Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A view of the Pemex booth at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston. ( Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle )
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A view of the floor at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston. ( Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle )
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A view of the floor at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston. ( Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle )
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Probe Kevin Gillingham talks at his booth in the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston. ( Steve Gonzales / Hou
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Kobelco Compression America Inc., James Simpson poses at his booth at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Reactive Downhole Tools LTD had some of their people dressed in kilts at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Hous
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Model Irena Shyshkena poses at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston. ( Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Alek Kolin, technical advisor Liebherr USA, Co., demonstrates a virtual reality crane at their Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) booth Wednesd
Photo: Bloomberg
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Attendees use an interactive screen at the Schlumberger Ltd. booth during the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, U.S., on We
Photo: Bloomberg
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An attendee uses the Interactive Wall at the Schlumberger Ltd. booth during the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, U.S., on
Photo: Bloomberg
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Attendees listen to a presentation at the Schlumberger Ltd. booth during the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Wed
Photo: Bloomberg
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An attendee walks past Schlumberger Ltd. signage during the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, May 3, 20
Photo: Bloomberg
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Attendees walk on the exhibition floor during the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. The OT
Photo: Bloomberg
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An attendee wears HTC Corp. Vive virtual reality (VR) headset while testing out the DecisionSpace simulation software at the Halliburton Co. booth dur
Photo: Bloomberg
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An employee demonstrates the remote operations of the AdvantageOne Offshore Cementing System at the Halliburton Co. booth during the 2017 Offshore Tec
Photo: Bloomberg
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An attendee wears HTC Corp. Vive virtual reality (VR) headset while testing out the DecisionSpace simulation software at the Halliburton Co. booth dur
Photo: Bloomberg
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An attendee wears a virtual reality (VR) headset while testing mixed reality simulation software at the BP Plc booth during the 2017 Offshore Technolo
Photo: Bloomberg
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An attendee wears a Samsung Electronics Co. Gear virtual reality (VR) headset at the BP Plc booth during the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC)
Photo: Bloomberg
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An attendee holds a 3-D printed digital rock at the BP Plc booth during the 2017 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Wedn
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Flour offers a drawing for a drone and Amazon Echo Dot at their booth at the Offshore Technology Conference Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Houston. ( Michael
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Stress trucks at the Vericore Portable Power booth at the Offshore Technology Conference Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Houston. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston C
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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The BenTec IR-100, center, at the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Park Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Houston. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston Chronicle)
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A Ruff Equipment RL 327 Linear Motion Shaker with Mud Cleaner at the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Park Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Houston. ( Mic
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Ela[container] offshore accommodations at the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Park Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Houston. ( Michael Ciaglo / Houston C
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Windlass integral fittings sit on a display table at the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Park Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Houston. ( Michael Ciaglo
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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People look at an ASV Unmanned Marine Systems workboat at the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Park Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Houston. ( Michael Ci
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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People talk in front of a Dragon Products Portable Compression Trailer at the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Park Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in Houst
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A man looks up at a Baker Hughes High-Pressure Surface Debris Filtration Unit at the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Park Tuesday, May 2, 2017 i
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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People look at a Weir SPM QEM 3000 on the Epix Frac Trailer during the Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Center Monday, May 1, 2017 in Houston. (
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A floor view of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston. ( Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle )
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Michael McKenney (left) of Billy Pugh Company, shoots fun photos on the floor of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017,
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A show attendee looks at a photo taken of her group by Billy Pugh Company, photographer Michael McKenney on the floor of the Offshore Technology Confe
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Alfa Laval Claus Elkjaer (left) talks to John Reck from Parker Drilling about the Unclean Toftejorg tank cleaning solutions at the Offshore Technology
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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Employees of Wika Instrument are sporting blue Vans and blue jeans on the floor of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 201
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A floor view of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston. ( Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle )
Photo: Houston Chronicle
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A view of the Pemex booth at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2017) Wednesday, May 3, 2017, in Houston. ( Steve Gonzales / Houston Chronicle )

Oil prices began to tumble in 2014, and bottomed out at $26 last year. Since then, more than 200 oil companies and services firms have gone bankrupt. More than 100,000 Texans lost jobs.

Balance sheets have since improved, but largely only those onshore, especially in West Texas’ Permian Basin.

Offshore drilling has lagged.