To prepare for the future, one must be present today. Attendees of the 2019 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) will be better prepared to face the decade ahead. In kicking off its 50th year in 2018 with a host of events focused on its history, this year’s OTC will continue the celebration as it is set to explore the future of offshore energy. To accomplish this, conference organizers prepared a program of events to highlight the latest in technology innovations, cutting-edge designs and visionary thinking.

The first event in that program is today’s opening general session. Its theme is “OTC’s Golden Anniversary Opening Session: The Next 50 Years of Offshore Developments.” Industry leaders from BP, Equinor, Total and more will share how their companies are preparing for a world that now includes automation, digitalization, machine learning and robotics.

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wayfik beydoun otc chairman
OTC Chairman Wayfik Beydoun

“We recognized the achievements of the past 50 years in last year’s opening ceremony,” said OTC Chairman Wafik Beydoun. “This year, we asked that the distinguished speakers think to the future and to share their vision for offshore developments.”

Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas in Austin, will moderate the opening session. Joining the discussion as a special guest speaker is Malcolm Frank, executive vice president of strategy and marketing for Cognizant and co-author of the book What to Do When Machines Do Everything.

“Digital technologies will have a major impact on the offshore industry,” Beydoun said. “Malcolm Frank will try to give the first view of that; he is someone I think is quite exceptional.”

Beydoun sees a clear place for offshore operations as long as they can remain competitive in terms of technical cost for exploring and producing offshore resources. “There is a future for offshore E&P operations,” he said. “There is a need for it, but at the same time, we need to find what I would say is low-cost oil.”

Keeping up with the demands of a growing global population helps ensure that there will be a need for offshore oil and gas production. “The International Energy Agency sees the demand for energy will continue to grow,” Beydoun said. “If we do nothing, our reservoirs will deplete at about 5% to 7% every year. This will create a gap of about 35 million barrels per day by 2025. So exploration and production have a big role in filling this gap.”

Marine renewables also will have a part in meeting that demand, a role highlighted in this week’s Offshore Renewable Energy Program. “The core business is oil and gas, but with advances in technology combined with increased societal and environmental awareness, we felt it was important to include tangible renewables as part of the program,” he said.

“We have 14 sessions dedicated to offshore renewables at this OTC, as this is a topic the board felt needed the space so that people could come and discuss this growing area of opportunity.”

In addition to renewables, attendees also will have an opportunity to travel the world without leaving Houston to learn more about offshore licensing opportunities, technology advancements and more as part of a new series of presentations.  

“For as long as I can remember, OTC has had sessions dedicated to specific countries. This year, we will feature nine countries as part of what we’re calling our ‘Around the World’ series,” he said. “The format is quite flexible and provides [an opportunity for] representatives from each country to highlight and show how they have made an impact in the offshore industry.”

The lineup includes Australia, Canada, France, Ghana, Guyana, Israel, Mexico, Norway and the U.K.

“It is new for this year, but hopefully we will keep it around so that other countries will have an opportunity to share how they resonate with offshore opportunities,” Beydoun said.
This year will be Beydoun’s last in his role as chairman of the OTC board, capping off nine years of service that have provided many great memories and more. “It enhanced my professional network and my overall understanding of the offshore ecosystem. Because we have many different societies represented on the board, with each representing a different aspect of the offshore, my awareness, understanding and appreciation for these other technologies increased,” he said. “It has been a wonderful nine years.”