At a VIP dinner on Monday, Sept. 7, that kicked off the Offshore Europe Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition for 2009, Dr. Leo Roodhart, the 2009 SPE president and co-chairman of Offshore Europe Partnership, said there would be 339 exhibitors at this year’s show and that as of Monday evening, there were more than 30,000 people pre-registered. “That is a lot more than two years ago,” Roodhart said, “It is a record figure despite an economic downturn.” Although that sounded like the usual pep talk preceding any conference, the fact of the matter is that the mood and level of enthusiasm on the opening day of the Offshore Europe Conference in Aberdeen on Tuesday was much more in keeping with a boom economy than a recession. More than 10,000 people passed through the doors on the opening day, and stand rental space exceeded that of previous shows. The din in the enormous exhibition area was the sound of business being done in a big way. The theme of this year’s event, “Energy at a Crossroads: Making Choices,” was the subject of the plenary session Tuesday morning, which featured presentations from leading VIPs from the upstream oil and gas sector. Speakers included Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s Minister of Climate and Energy, Talisman Energy Inc. President and CEO John Manzoni, Andrew Gould, chairman and president of Schlumberger, and UK Energy Minister Lord Hunt. Offshore Europe 2009 Chairman Thomas Thune Andersen chaired the event, which was followed by a debate that included questions about how the energy industry should react to climate change and how it would contend with the many challenges it brings. The plenary session was followed by a technical program that featured well technology, reservoir management, and exploration sessions as well as a session that addressed the question of how the industry will work toward a low-carbon future. Tuesday’s sessions addressed similar topics and included a panel discussion on the subject of operating models and how those models need to change to contend with future demands. With another full day of technical programs remaining followed by a half-day program on Friday, the conference is in full swing. Despite my initial assumption that this year’s Offshore Europe would be yet another dreary show reflecting the recession, I found myself caught up in the whirl of activity. Everyone wanted to talk about their technology, and as usual, there weren’t enough hours in the day to take it all in. Although most of my days have been spent dashing from one point to another and back again, I am looking forward to the rest of the show. There is excitement about the opportunities in the North Sea and beyond, and there are many companies tackling the challenges that this crossroads has thrown in front of them. Despite the recession and the difficult times we find ourselves in, this is still an exhilarating industry.
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