Highlights from Houston’s 2019 Offshore Technology Conference

Highlights from Houston’s 2019 Offshore Technology Conference

Houston’s NRG Park hosted over 59,000 attendees from more than 100 nations at the 2019 Offshore Technology Conference May 6-9, celebrating OTC’s 50th anniversary.

From top oil and gas executives, engineers, operators, and technicians, to university research scientists and Houston high school students, the Offshore Technology Conference ranks among the largest 100 annual U.S. trade shows – falling within the largest 10 in terms of attendance.

This year’s event boasted over 2,300 exhibits, 52% of those represented by international companies. Here are a few highlights from OTC 2019.

Future of Offshore Developments

During OTC’s opening general sessions titled “The Next 50 Years of Offshore Developments,” industry leaders including Total and BP discussed how oil and gas companies plan to incorporate machine learning, digitalization, and automation across the next five decades.

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

University of Texas in Austin’s Director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, Scott Tinker, moderated the session. Guest speaker Malcolm Frank, Executive VP of Strategy and Marketing with Cognizant, discussed the impact of digital technology on offshore.

Beydoun also emphasized this year’s focus on renewables. “OTC continues to evolve in response to our changing world, this year including 14 sessions dedicated to offshore renewables,” he said, “which just further reinforces that this is not only the largest but the most impactful energy conference in the world.”

2019 OTC Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients

OTC recognized the recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award during the Golden Anniversary Gala at Downtown Houston’s Marriott Marquis. This year, the gala raised $300,000 for Spindletop Charities, providing aid programs that support at-risk youth in Houston and surrounding areas.

Carlos Mastrangelo, managing partner of Houston-based B-in Partners LLC, received the Individual Achievement award for his pioneering work in floating production, storage, and offloading unit (FPSO) design and global adoption.

Mastrangelo supported the U.S. government in their evaluation of FPSO’s environmental impact and overall risk analysis in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 2000s, eventually directing Petrobras in outlining its strategy for the first FPSO and first U.S. Jones Act shuttle tanker, introducing worldwide application of cost-saving FPSOs.

In recognition of its technological advancements and achieving world-class safety performance in the Hebron Offshore Project, ExxonMobil received the 2019 OTC Distinguished Achievement Award for Institutions.

Technological advancements in the Hebron Project included the use of advanced heavy oil separation technology to reduce footprint, the use of innovative power plant gas turbine exhaust stack design to alleviate heat loads on nearby equipment, and the integration of process and emergency shutdown procedures allowing for real-time onshore support. At the time of completion, the Hebron Project team worked over 42 million hours without one lost-time injury.

David C. Baldwin, Co-President of SCF Partners, received the prestigious Hoover Medal for American Engineering in recognition of outstanding extra-career services by engineers to humanity. Besides serving as a leader in the oil and gas industry, Baldwin’s philanthropic efforts include leading a 3,500-mile cross-country bike journey to raise $13 million for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

2019 OTC Spotlight on New Technology Award Recipients

Out of more than 450 submissions received, OTC presented 18 winners with the Spotlight on New Technology Award for technologies involving well testing, RFID completion systems, subsea flowmeters, and smart pigging. “They are proof that the highway of the future in offshore development is being paved by innovations,” said Beydoun.

From startups to established energy giants, award recipients included FutureOn, OneSubsea, NOV, Hytorc, AF Global, Baker Hughes, GreenPin, NOV, Dril-Quip, Saipem, Schlumberger, TechnipFMC, Siemens, and Stress Engineering Services Inc.

Concert well testing live performance

Schlumberger’s Bryan Zimdars (Marketing Communications Manager, Testing Services) explained Schlumberger’s concert well testing live performance gives operators a digital view of the entire well testing operation no matter what location they’re in.

“This includes well testing operations as well as clean up and flow back operations,” said Zimdars. “It’s a large amount of ruggedized tablets along with wearable technology, wireless sensors, and video cameras. It brings down the risk of an operation, allowing the operator to really look at reservoir potential.”

Vx Omni subsea multiphase flowmeter

“It’s a real honor for the entire team to be recognized at a major industry platform like OTC,” said Akshay Kalia, Products and Tech Manager with OneSubsea. “The spotlight on new technology award is a true testament of the hard work of the multidisciplinary team involved in the development of this breakthrough technology.”

Kalia explained how the Vx Omni subsea multiphase flowmeter makes things lighter, simpler, and less costly.Traditionally, operators have been very concerned with the reliability of multiphase flow meters, and as a result, packaged them into very big, expensive, retrievable flow control modules on subsea Christmas trees,” said Kalia. “These flow control modules are a band-aid solution that added a lot of weight, complexity, and cost to the subsea trees. It did not really address the root cause of the problem.”

“The VX Omni subsea multiphase flow meter was our answer to that,” said Kalia. “With a mean time between failure of over 200 years, it offers a step change in reliability performance. This is comparable to the reliability performance of satellites that we put in space.”

“This was driven by a step change in the product architecture that resulted in a 66% reduction in the part count and over 30% reduction in weight and cost,” said Kalia. This enabled us to package these in a much more capital efficient way onto our subsea Christmas trees. Moreover, these meters can now be delivered 50% faster, empowering our customers with data that they can use to effectively manage their reservoirs.”

RFID based completion systems

Reggie Boggs, Global Director of Sand Control Solutions with Weatherford, explained Weatherford’s award-winning RFID based completion systems in an interview with Hart energy. “It’s a game changing technology for our customers.”

“One of the beauties of the RFID actuation systems is that it allows your tools to be pressure insensitive as well as multicycle when you run them in the hull. Now, you can circulate as many times as you want. You can circulate on bottom, the whole trip in the well. You can test your tubing as many times as you want. You can open and close ball valves, sliding sleeves. You can test your safety valves. Any time you want while tripping the well.”

Each individual tool in the single trip completion system can be operated independently and discreetly from each other. So now you can open and close a ball valve at any time. You can open the ball valve at a discrete time in the well. You can close it later. Pressure test your tubing. Reopen the ball valve again. It’s a unique technology that only Weatherford has.”

Subsea automatic pig launcher

Cobie Loper, VA of Global Offshore Accounts with NOV described the advantages of their award-winning subsea automatic pig launcher. “This subsea automatic pig launcher will eventually eliminate a second flow line, where typically you’d have two to bring the pig from the platform around back to the platform, here you can send it from subsea to the platform and it will eliminate a line,” said Loper.

“It also gives you opportunities to do more regular maintenance and cleaning of the line to help with flow assurance, said Loper. “We’re not having to mobilize vessels and ROVs and other types of kit that can be expensive in the long term.”

“We also see unmanned platforms as an area where this technology could be utilized,” said Loper. “Platforms typically have pig launchers, receivers that perform manual intervention. Here, you can have it remotely controlled and be able to pig from the platform back without personnel on the vessel.”

OTC Rice Alliance 10 Most Promising Startup Award Winners

During OTC’s Rice Alliance Startup Roundup, over 40 investment groups and operator innovation teams were able to meet one-on-one with 60 emerging energy companies to discuss their ideas and encourage partnerships. Participating startups raised a total of $260 million in venture funding, the most in the event’s five-year history.

Among the 10 named 2019 Rice Alliance “Most Promising” OTC Startup Award Winners were Houston’s Syzygy Plasmonics, Cemvita Factory, Lift ETC, and Sensorfield; Humble Texas’ LaserStream; Canada’s TOKU, Dark Vision, and Ingu Solutions; California’s Ondaka; and Oslo’s Oliasoft.

2019 OTC Energy Challenge Scholarship Awards

Houston’s The Village School won first place in the third annual OTC Energy Challenge, an event showcasing local high school students’ approach to tackling today’s energy challenges. Westside High School won second place and Chavez High School won third place. Scholarship winnings totaled $12,000.

Offshore Energy Robotics, Nano-Materials, and More

Shell International’s Georgios Papadopoulos and Ilkay Darilmaz chaired a session on applying robotic applications for safer, lower cost offshore operations. Job-Set LLC’s Francois Auzerais and Materials Nanotech LLC’s Othon Monteiro chaired a session on smart and nano-materials like cements and polymers, while Shell’s Peter Wallace and MIT Technologies’ Ahmed Tahoun chaired a session on advances in drilling technologies.

Equinor’s senior VP Chris Golden discussed changing American deepwater development costs in a low-price environment via advanced digitalization, analytics, and robotics – which have the potential to reduce opex, capex, and drilling expense.

“We envision a blue-sky concept of creating more than $2 billion of value,” Golden said, “of ultimately a totally unmanned ultra-deepwater facility in the future.”

You can learn more about the innovative technologies currently transforming the energy industry in my book, Giant Shifts: Energy Trends Reshaping America’s Future.

“There were many measures of success for this year’s edition of OTC, and while it’s exciting that attendance was above average for the event, I’m even more gratified by the diverse representation of geographies, industries, and topics,” Beydoun said.


Attorney Jimmy Vallee is an energy Mergers & Acquisitions lawyer, oil and gas industry commentator, and frequent resource for media outlets including USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Oil & Gas Monitor and others. His new book, Giant Shifts: Energy Trends Reshaping America’s Future, released in May, 2017 hit #1 in two Amazon categories the week of its launch.
Connect with Jimmy at [hidden email]
Noted Energy Futurist” – Mensa AG 2016

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