Record Turnout at Offshore Europe Reflects Buoyant Industry Mood

More than 32,000 visitors from across the globe set a new record attendance level for the SPE Offshore Europe 2011 Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition held in Aberdeen last week.

Event organizers said this year's conference, focused on "Securing Safe, Smart, Sustainable Supply," drew a 4.2 percent increase in attendance over 2009's record-setting attendance, despite the conference only being held for three days instead of four.

"I was delighted to see the enthusiasm and vast attendance at SPE Offshore Europe 2011 and it was an honor to be involved. The very high levels of activity were encouraging to see both in the conference and exhibition as the global attendees conducted business, networked and shared their ideas for the future of our industry," SPE President Alain Labastie said.

SPE Offshore Europe 2011 Chairman Samir Brikho, who is also Chief Executive Officer of AMEC plc, said the conference was a great venue for discussing the present and future state of the complex global industry.

"Based on what we debated and discussed in the conference sessions, it is very clear that if we want to manage supply and demand, there is no room for complacency. We need to be much more down to earth in our thinking when considering what will be the best solutions and to continue to put safety at the top of our priorities," Brikho said.

During a lunch panel on the first day, Schlumberger past CEO and current Chairman Andrew Gould shared his thoughts on the growth of technology in the industry and the "acute" need for project managers that exhibit both leadership and technical skills to offset the experienced workforce leaving the industry. Gould said the amount of experience leaving the industry will be enormous in the coming decade and all operators are depending on technology to offset the drag.

"The talent war will be inflationary and disruptive," Gould said based on his observations of the industry chasing the same population and not necessarily adding to the same population at the same rate.

Focus on the offshore industry's oil spill prevention and response capabilities was a hot topic during the conference. Several conference events were dedicated to the topic of oil spills, along with the official launch of the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG)'s high-profile well-capping device, which has the capability to cap an uncontrolled subsea well.

Exhibition Director Elaine Hulse said the Deep Water Zone, a newly created exhibition area, was a "resounding success and demonstrated the oil and gas industry's strong desire to learn about global technologies."

Brikho highlighted that international operating companies clearly want to continue with their global investments, and that the changing and expanding role of National Oil Companies in the international arena would be a major factor in the future. He also stressed the continued importance of achieving emissions reductions in the upstream sector, and that the E&P industry is now working in an increasingly diverse energy portfolio and in an increasingly complex supply chain, in co-operation with different nations.

The conference's exhibition area was more than 25,000 square meters with 275 of the 1,500 total exhibitors making their first appearance at the event.

"The level of international interest and participation, in terms of operating companies, government ministries and others, was particularly significant. There was an upbeat feel to the show throughout, both in terms of business on the UKCS and the global opportunities, and it clearly reflected the industry's buoyant mood," Hulse said.

SPE Offshore Europe is held every two years at the AECC venue in Aberdeen. The next event will be held in the first week of September 2013.