The International Association of Drilling Contractor's 2010 World Drilling Conference is now underway in Budapest, Hungary. The trip from Houston, Texas, only took 23 hours (NOTE TO SELF: Get a new travel agent!). So far, there's been plenty to talk about from advances in drilling technology to improved risk management programs. However, the Gulf of Mexico is no small topic either. A brief review of Monday's June 14, 2010 issue of USA Today featured several pages of news concerning the current efforts to kill the oil leak just offshore Louisiana. Apparently, President Obama has paralleled the spill to an environmental 9/11, labeling the event an "assault" on the US coast. Rhetoric is in no short supply, unlike oil and natural gas. A separate article expressed the UK's reaction to tough talk by the US President against one of the country's largest, most profitable companies. Nothing important there, just more rhetoric. Finally, someone is attempting to write about technology. HEADLINE: "Relief wells aim at 7-inch pipe 18,000 feet below the surface" The article is well written at least with viable sources to offer credibility to the account. However, the tone seems a bit dry. The article begs to be on the front page as the "latest failed attempt." And even though the headline says it all, the author still isn't convinced when he writes, "Instead of drilling for oil, workers are targeting the 7-inch-wide steel-casing pipe located just above the spot where the oil reservoir 18,000 feet deep." In reality, that is the story that needs to be told. However, Vergano accounts for his three obligatory sources and ends with the projected 100 days it will take to stop the leak. As an editor at E&P, the fact that a team of engineers can send a 5 1/2-in. pipe more than three miles down and accurately target another pipe with a diameter of 7-in. is without a doubt an amazing feat. Despite the obvious problems with the spill, the technology (much of which is being highlighted in Budapest this week) speaks volumes for an industry that is only 63 years old. The problem, for most Americans is that we're too close. We see the rigs on tv, we hear the bad press on the evening news, we listen to the government convince us that oil companies are robbing us at the pump (even though nearly half the price of a gallon is taken out in taxes). Combine all of these observations, and the average person thinks they know something about the oil and gas industry. For weeks, the evening news has barraged the public conscious with derogatory images of the oil and gas industry. From ruined tourist destinations to fishermen unable to ply their trade. Now, the government has stepped in and put the industry at a complete standstill. Watching the "Anderson Coopers" of the world, you'd think that every person living on the Louisiana coast is as mad he is. We're all frustrated, that goes without saying. However, the average American living in close proximity to the spill, either works in the oil and gas industry or at least has relatives and close friends in the business. For a time, I thought it was just me. At least, until I traveled to Europe. ZURICH, SWITZERLAND (Custom Agent): "You from Texas? You have oil rig in backyard?" ME: "No. But I am in the oil and gas industry." CUSTOM AGENT: "Why don't they fix leak?" ME: "They're trying. It's very deep. It's never happened before at this depth?" CUSTOM AGENT: "AH, why not just put thing on the thing and wah lah (wiping hands clean)?" ME: "I'll let them know when I get back to Houston [?]" OK, so not everyone. [ARRIVE IN BUDAPEST] My point is this. A reporter from the BBC was broadcasting live from the Louisiana coast on Tueday evening. She said the following: "There is a lot of ambivalence toward the oil industry here in Louisiana. While many of these residents make the living fishing in these waters, many and possibly more work in the oil and gas industry. They're really not happy about the moratorium. One resident said he feels like they've been punished twice." Truth is, sometimes you have to step away from things to see a bigger picture. With the situation in the Gulf of Mexico we are damned if we do, and we are certainly damned if we don't.