With climate change and demand for global oil high on the political agenda, the oil and gas industry has never been more of a point of global discussion and debate than it is now. Political tensions in the Middle East, Iraq's recent emergence into the oil market, and the debate on green energy and biofuels have resulted in a period of uncertainty and rapid change.
So you can imagine how much of an impact a gathering of oil and gas providers, suppliers, and the governments that work with them, can have on the future direction of the offshore industry. The centre of such impact, for 2007, will be Europe's own energy hub in Aberdeen, Scotland, where the biannual Offshore Europe conference and exposition will take place on 4 to 7 September.
RENEWING THE OFFSHORE INDUSTRY
In the past, Offshore Europe has been synonymous with targeting pressing issues and revealing some of the industry's biggest announcements.
Offshore Europe 2007, for example, will focus on renewable and green energies and their role in today's market and offshore oil and gas mining. This is in response to last year's focus, derived out of the conclusion that hydrocarbons are here to stay but the reality of diminishing oil supplies will be a matter of growing concern.
THE OFFSHORE TECHNOLOGY RACE
OE exhibition director Nik Rudge says, with a focus more on results, this year's conference will have a particular focus on technology.
"OE (Offshore Europe) is more than ever about technology, as opposed to geography. [It is about] providing an environment to discover the technical solutions that will take the worldwide business forward,'' Rudge says.
This goes beyond meeting renewable outcomes, according to Rudge, who says technology is helping transform all aspects of the oil and gas industry.
"The E and P (exploration and production) sector is at a hugely important stage in its life cycle; extending field life and optimising production.
The big crew changes amongst other areas are key challenges and the importance of Offshore Europe in providing a forum for professionals to meet, debate and discuss the technology and solutions has never been greater."
OE managing director and executive vice president of BG Group for Europe and Central Asia, providers of natural gas, Mark Carne agrees, and even goes as far as saying the rate of change in the industry has inspired a technology race that all offshore providers are a part of.
"Our industry is accustomed to significant changes and challenges. Nevertheless, the changes we see in our business today are huge in almost every dimension. The technology race to keep up with the demands of this changing industry is truly impressive," Carne says.
So with the continual development of new and innovative ways to explore oil and gas around the world, one of the highlights of OE 07 will undoubtedly be new technologies. This means companies will be lining up to showcase their latest ideas. Offshore Technology already knows that big names such as Halliburton, who made an impact with a glimpse into the future of digital oilfield technologies; Schlumberger; BG Group and Statoil are all planning large announcements for this year's event.
DRILLING DOWN TO TECHNOLOGY
Some of the key technologies you can expect to see innovations in at this year's Offshore Europe include smart down-hole tools for drilling, and down-hole monitoring and control equipment among many others. But Offshore Europe is not only about how technology works.
Leading this year's discussion will be Royal Dutch Shell executive director for E&P, Malcolm Brinded.
He, along with ExxonMobil chairman and production director Robert Olsen and Halliburton president and CEO David Lesar will open discussion on issues surrounding the shape and direction of the energy industry.
They will join speakers from the BG Group (CEO Frank Chapman) and the UK Government (undersecretary of the State for Energy, Lord Truscott who is expected to talk on the current British energy policy on the global stage) and more.
THE FUTURE OF THE OFFSHORE INDUSTRY
A forum for discussion and debate, industry associations such as the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) will also take advantage of the global stage by putting together a workgroup on digital video technologies to revise its current international operational material. The organisation is currently looking to hear from suppliers, users and clients to contribute to the workgroup looking at new products and changes throughout the industry, ready for review and publication in 2008.
And with technology comes a waft of new skills required to keep the industry going – this, according to IMCA, is one of offshore's biggest concerns.
IMCA hopes to use Offshore Europe as a platform to attract attention to current recruitment and retention issues through Education Day on Friday 7 September.
Children from age 14 upwards will be encouraged to attend this important event which will showcase what a career in offshore can offer. For a closer look at the current skills crisis affecting the industry, click the link at the bottom of the article for detailed analysis and commentary from IMCA CEO Hugh Williams.
Education Day will tie in with the Oilcareerfair recruitment event running over four days in the conference red zone which will highlight jobs in the industry from around the world.
With the most authoritative members of the industry bringing us the latest developments OE 07 promises a jam-packed and unique look at the future of the global oil and gas market. And Offshore Technology will be there to cover it. Log on to www.offshore-technology.com from 4 September to access up-to-date news, exciting product launches, key issues, debates and more.