NAPE opens with enthusiastic speakers, light crowds

The 2015 NAPE Summer expo at the George R. Brown Convention Center is seen Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Houston. ( Jon Shapley / Houston Chronicle )
The George R. Brown Convention Center also hosted the NAPE conference last year. ( Jon Shapley / Houston Chronicle )

The North American Prospect Expo, the nation’s premier conference for buying and selling oil and gas land, opened Wednesday in Houston to sparse crowds and sweeping discussions of the changing industry.

Hydraulic fracturing, which now dominates Texas production, fundamentally changed oil and gas production in the state and beyond, said Richard Stoneburner, a managing director at New York-based private equity firm Pine Book Partners.

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Stoneburner, the conference’s first speaker, said the technology to fracture shale rock by pumping fluids down wells at high pressures was a “truly historical event” around 2006.

He outlined the evolution of at least a dozen shale plays, and remained bullish on the future of oil and gas. There is risk in every play, Stoneburner said, but much of it is “attractively priced.”

“No one says it’s easy, and you’re never going to get it perfect,” Stoneburner said. “But if it was easy, it wouldn’t be any fun.”

Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton took the stage at 10 a.m. to talk about the energy race.

NAPE expects about 3,000 attendees over the two-day expo. The business conference opened Wednesday morning with fewer than 100 in the ballroom at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The floor exhibition, which is much more widely attended, opens Wednesday afternoon.