For many in the oil and gas industry, the annual pilgrimage to the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston is a road well-travelled. The week itself is not for the faint hearted with early starts, late finishes, and those extra-long days driven by the need to beat the Houston humidity and traffic, as much as the need to make the show a success.
During the early morning stroll from the parking lot up to the NRG Park, I walk past the bronze statues (a tribute to the Texas rodeo) to what will be our ‘bull ring’ for the week. While the technical conference provides the opportunity to share learning across the industry, the real work is done on the exhibition floor.
In 2016, we stand on the very edge (pessimists may argue that it’s an abyss rather than an edge) for change in the industry. Is this change driven by adversity from a low oil price or necessity from an unsustainable high oil price?
Those discussing low oil price this week will be left behind. If we are still wondering about what to do then the game is over – this week is about what we are already doing to effect change.
The industry by its very nature evolves and changes constantly. Think how radical it must have been to introduce roller cone drill bits reducing cost in the early 1900s from $25 to $6 per foot. That technology gave the Hughes Tool company exclusivity to the market, created great wealth, made Howard Hughes a household name, and the rest is history.
Technology and new product launches have always featured heavily at OTC, as companies vie for attention and competitive advantage. In a highly competitive environment, oil and gas companies have invested in technology either through acquisition or organic growth, as hydrocarbon basins have become more challenging to exploit.
Individuals and organisations traditionally want to succeed on their own. Whilst consolidation within the industry and falling stock values may trigger yet more mergers and acquisitions, we still maintain a competitive nature.
Where we usually measure success purely in dollars, at OTC it is measured in knowledge gained. The show has always been a networking event where longstanding relationships are revisited and new ones created. Perhaps now is the time to put rivalries aside for the greater good, and for competition to fall aside to collaboration - definitely a road less travelled for the oil and gas industry.