OTC makes a splash with opening dinner

The Offshore Technology Conference, a gathering of almost 100,000 attendees from every walk of the energy industry, begins officially on Monday and will hold a wide range of panels, discussions and meetings for representatives from everywhere from Mozambique to Saudi Arabia to North Dakota.

The dinner celebrated both the innovation and the community that creates it.

“Houston is proud to host OTC every year,” said Annise Parker, the mayor of Houston, as she greeted the roughly 900 conference attendees who participated in the conference’s third annual dinner. “Oil and gas fuels our economy, fuels our philanthropy, remembers our volunteer corp in emergencies and the day-to-day needs of our community.”

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Behind Parker, screens flashed with images of the ocean’s floor and its creatures – images that are available thanks to inventions, such as remote sensors and cameras,  that the industry’s technology has developed.

“For those of us working in the oil and gas industry, it is a must-attend event,” said Carlos Ortiz, a business development manager for Transocean, who attended the dinner.  “You don’t always know everything that is available in the market – this gives you chance to take a look and learn – it enables you to look for commercial synergies that better satisfies the needs of customers.”

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Agha Abani, managing director for Nigerian-based Harrybeat international services, said that he was able to make key connections with tank cleaning equipment for a Chevron project last year at the conference.

“It’s fantastic,” Abani said. “My reason for coming here is to network and possibly get partnerships in my areas of service.  People all over the world in oil and gas are attending this conference.”

Emil Pena, executive director of the Global Energy Safety Institute and a former assistant director of the Department of Energy, said he has attended all of the last 20 conferences, and noted that the conferences are increasingly focusing on systemic safety, rather than exclusively focusing on process safety.

For Sam Stevenson, CEO of New Zealand-based Envoy 360, the conference is his first, and is a chance to tell other attendees about his maritime risk management company.

“Somali pirates, hate crime, loss prevention, cyber threats — we are looking at how we can replace men with guns with an avoidance strategy for offshore platforms and oil tankers,” Stevenson said.

“This conference is one of the global fulcrums for techniques and best practices that can be transferred,” Pena said.

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Marianne Bremnes, the mayor of Harstad in northern Norway, said that she is at the conference with a delegation of more than 270 Norwegians to learn how her city can develop its presence in the oil industry, following in the footsteps of Stevanger, considered to be the capital of oil for Norway.

“We are here, because Harstad is the capital of oil for northern Norway,” Bremnes said. “We have a lot to learn from Stevanger.”

Parker gave the attendees a Texan welcome, freely interchanging between the hospitality and commerce that Houston has made its hallmark.

“The innovation reflected in this conference reflects the innovation that occurs every day in Houston,” Parker said. “As mayor, I have to say I am ready glad you are here and I hope you spend a lot of money.”

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