Blogging OTC all week

The Chronicle’s energy business team will be blogging from the Offshore Technology Conference at the Reliant Stadium complex this week. This massive gathering of the energy industry is expected to draw close to 60,000 people over the course of four days. This is shy of the early 1980s attendance numbers, which we’ve been told topped 80,000, but more than the International Quilt Festival, which topped the local conferences for a number of years.
OTC is like a Mecca for engineers of all flavors. In some circles they might be called geeks (as one Peter Marshall gladly calls himself here toward the bottom of the page), but they are the brains behind the flow of crude and gas throughout the world. OTC fills up all of Reliant Center, a number of tents outside and, this year, has expanded to Reliant Stadium. Getting the area ready for OTC, particularly just a week after the Houston Grand Prix was no small feat.
On Sunday Reliant Center was buzzing with exhibitors setting up and some attendees showing up early for pre-registration. The indoor exhibition spaces were closed to all but those doing the real prep work but the lobbies and walkways were already set up. The onsite Starbucks was doing a brisk business. Officials with Brazilian oil giant Petrobras had slapped their logo in all sorts of spots around the building, including a continuous line of logos on the stationary railings of the escalators. The company’s general manager of R&D, Marcos Assayag, is being honored with the individual achievement award at OTC this year, so it’s no wonder they want to keep their visibility high.
The tent area outside Reliant Center was busy with heavy-duty compressors, pumps, drilling rigs and all other manner of equipment used in offshore oil and gas exploration and production.
Workers with Texas First Industries were busy scrubbing and polishing machinery using spray cleaner, cloth towels and what looked like toothbrushes. Halliburton workers were setting up tents (and fans, which will no doubt be needed when temperatures get into the 80s on Monday) while some exhibitors had their pictures taken in front of truck-mounted drilling rigs belonging to RG Petro and others. The sign by the exhibit space for Baytown-based Industrial Trailer Co. suggested passers-by “Ask about blast resistant trailers.”
The next four days will be a lot of networking, negotiating and browsing, but every day features a very civilized and appropriately Houston ending: an ice cream social in Reliant Stadium.