Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston. The positive energy was palpable among the 61,300 delegates, which suggests there is good reason to be cautiously optimistic about the future of the oil and gas sector. While this is an international event that attracts oil and gas industry professionals from all over the globe, Atlantic Canada had a strong representation at the conference with many industry leaders contributing to the overall dialogue.
Among the Nova Scotia delegates—made up of a mix of industry and academia—was Premier Stephen McNeil who sent a strong message to industry that “Nova Scotia is open for business”. At the Canadian press conference, Premier McNeil acknowledged Alberta’s economic contribution to all of Canada. He encouraged continued interest and investment in offshore Nova Scotia, and was optimistic about LNG and other energy opportunities like tidal and wind energy. Newfoundland and Labrador was represented by Minister Coady, who shared an optimistic outlook for the province’s offshore industry. Since 1997, Newfoundland and Labrador has produced 1.7 billion barrels of oil, and has four active development projects. In two offshore areas alone, Newfoundland and Labrador has an impressive resource potential of 37.5 billion barrels of oil and 133.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Paul Sanford, Senior Associate, Regional Business Development Leader with Stantec in Nova Scotia, has attended OTC over the past number of years as part of the Maritimes Energy Association delegation. He commented that this year there was less focus on survival and a more positive view towards resiliency and a path forward.
“Over the past couple of years there has been a real focus on how companies are going to make it through,” said Paul. “The belt tightening and finding of new technologies and efficiencies is continuing, but the difference is that companies are now looking at this as a productive means of moving forward.”
There was a lot of discussions about the opportunities outside of Canada—many companies are starting to broaden their horizons and look to countries like Guyana and Brazil for new opportunities. Many Canadian companies have developed core competencies and skills working in our harsh offshore environments that can be applicable in these new and emerging markets.
Delegates from Newfoundland and Labrador in particular had a lot to offer on this particular subject area. The Newfoundland & Labrador Oil & Gas Industries Association (Noia) organized several events including presentations from various Trade Commissioners about international supply chain opportunities, giving attendees invaluable insights about upcoming and current procurements and tips for building relationships—something Atlantic Canada is renowned for in the industry.
For example, Guyanese industry professionals are very appreciative of Atlantic Canadians’ approach to building meaningful partnerships and creating local content opportunities as patience and investment in relationships are key when doing business in Guyana, too.
One of the most popular technical sessions was about the Hebron project. The room was filled to capacity with an overflow space for conference attendees interested in hearing more about the Hebron platform, which produced first oil on November 27, 2017. Located 350 kilometres offshore Newfoundland and Labrador, the project was an incredible technical feat.
Personally, it was a point of pride being in a room with people from around the world who were truly impressed with the efforts of ExxonMobil and its partners—Chevron Canada, Suncor Energy, Statoil Canada, and Nalcor Energy—for a project that is close to home.
Overall, one of the greatest returns for participants was the opportunity to network and connect with colleagues from across the country and around the world. This included the Noia Networking Reception and the Nova Scotia Reception, which were well attended by delegates from those provinces and Houston-based oil and gas company executives. Ideas were shared, friendships were formed, and discussions about future collaborative opportunities made for a successful show.
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