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.

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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.

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.