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OTC opens amid industry downturn


Date: May 02, 2016

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Image 1 of 6 | OTC Setup 2016

Houston Chronicle

Workers install a display at the Alberta, Canada booth in the Canadian Pavilion during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Workers install a display at the Alberta, Canada booth in the Canadian Pavilion during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Image 2 of 6 | OTC Setup 2016

Houston Chronicle

Workers install a display at the Parker booth during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Workers install a display at the Parker booth during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Image 3 of 6 | OTC Setup 2016

Houston Chronicle

Aubrey Schwab, left, and Brian Mizell, right, install a display of a multi-segment clamp connector at the Oil States Industries booth during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Aubrey Schwab, left, and Brian Mizell, right, install a display of a multi-segment clamp connector at the Oil States Industries booth during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Image 4 of 6 | OTC Setup 2016

Houston Chronicle

Workers install a display at the Caterpillar booth during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Workers install a display at the Caterpillar booth during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Image 5 of 6 | OTC Setup 2016

Houston Chronicle

Phillip Henricks, left, and forklift driver Jeffrey Laurito, right, work to move a display of multi-segment clamp connector at the Oil States Industries booth during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Phillip Henricks, left, and forklift driver Jeffrey Laurito, right, work to move a display of multi-segment clamp connector at the Oil States Industries booth during set-up for the Offshore Technology Conference in NRG Center Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Houston. ( Melissa Phillip / Houston Chronicle )

Image 6 of 6 | OTC Setup 2016

Thousands of energy professionals began pouring into Houston’s NRG Center on Monday for the week-long Offshore Technology Conference, a massive oil-and-gas expo littered with flashy model rigs, car-sized robots and an array of tools from the industry’s deep-sea drilling fleet.

The spectacle of the energy industry’s largest annual conference stands in sharp contrast to the state of the world’s oil business after a two-year downturn forced many companies to cut their drilling operations to bare bones, sidelining much of the oil technology on display at OTC this week. The conference comes as rising oil prices fuel hope among the oil-and-gas technology buffs walking the exhibit hall that a long-anticipated recovery has begun. But many energy experts believe any rebound will take a long time.

Conference organizers say the gathering this year is perhaps more vital than ever as drillers seek new technologies and practices to increase efficiency, lower costs and become more competitive with land-based drillers tapping shale deposits.

“Since 1969, the world has come to OTC to make critical decisions, share ideas and develop business partnerships to meet global energy demands,” conference chairman Joe Fowler said in a statement.

The Offshore Technology Conference occupies a unique position in the industry, reflecting its health and market conditions.

Attendance peaked in 2014 with 108,161 showing up at NRG Park. The crowds thinned last year to 94,880 as oil grew cheaper and is expected to slide further this year. Exhibit sales have already fallen off slightly, officials said.

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