AP NEWS

OTC Notebook: Tank gives new meaning to ‘big iron’

May 9, 2019

Talk about big iron.

One of the most popular booths at the Offshore Technology Conference features a West German tank, brought to the gathering of the oil and gas industry by the Ox Ranch to promote its hunting ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Among the activites there: driving and shooting one of 14 tanks.

The tank traveled to OTC on the back of a flat-bed 18-wheeler over the weekend during an overnight trip of more than 300 miles. It’s provided the backdrop for more than a few selfies.

— Sergio Chapa

A lifesaver for sales

Advanced Designs Corp., an Indiana-based company that sells weather monitoring systems to off-shore operators, has to compete for attention with hundreds of other booths at OTC. So the company has hit upon a sure-fire method to get conference goers to stop: offer a treat.

Company president Matthew McGrath was emptying a 41-ounce bag of individually wrapped wintergreen-flavored Lifesavers into a big glass bowl during the first few minutes of the conference Tuesday morning. The bowl is conveniently placed in front of a television monitor that explains the company’s weather radar service. People spot the candy and stop to watch the video while they unwrap a piece and eat it, said McGrath, who goes through two big bags a day.

McGrath can’t point to an instance when the candy triggered a sale. But sweet treats work, he insists, because they get conference goers to slow down and hear about weather radar services for the off-shore industry. And the more they hear, he figures, the better the chances he’ll make some sales. \

He goes through tow big bags a day.

— L.M. Sixel

Doubling up

Rainstorms made life difficult Tuesday for OTC exhibitors along the outdoor parkway area, but at least one company was covering its bases.

The employees at the outdoor booth for the Oklahoma company Mako Products could just go inside and work the indoor NRG Center exhibit of its product supplier, South Korea’s BMT Co. and its U.S. subsidiary Superlok.

Mako’s Jim Schmidt was tempted to tough it out though.

“It’s not going to rain on our booth,” he joked. “We’re prayed up.”

Schmidt, who has attended many OTC weeks with several companies since his first OTC in 1980, said the event is more professional with less debauchery than the bigger party atmosphere in the past, but it’s still singularly unique.

“It’s like the Grammys on steroids for the oilfield industry,” Schmidt said. “There’s nothing like this on earth. Everything here is amazing.”

— Jordan Blum

Offshore wind on the rise

It’s getting dramatically cheaper to develop offshore wind energy. That’s making projects more profitable and attracting more investments from big energy companies such as the Norwegian company Equinor and Royak Dutch Shell, experts speaking at the OTC conference said Tuesday.

Companies can develop offshore wind projects in the U.S. for as low as 6.5 cents per a kilowatt hour. For comparison, electricity from the tiny five-turbine, 30-MW Block Island wind farm, which became operational in 2016 off the coast of Rhode Island, is priced at 24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“You see the costs coming down tremendously, as you’ve seen for solar and onshore wind, then obviously investors see this is as an opportunity and the technology can actually compete with other energy supplies,” said Christer Af Geijerstam, president at Equinor Wind USA. ““We believe that (cost reduction) will continue and this technology will be very competitive,”

Equinor ASA two proposed offshore wind projects off the coast of New York and New Jersey with the combined potential to generate enough electricity to power more than 2 million homes. If Equinor secures the necessary certificates and approvals for those projects this year, Geijerstam said those wind farms could be operational by 2025.

Meanwhile, Shell has formed a joint partnership with EDF Renewables on an offshore wind project in New Jersey capable of generating enough electricity for nearly 1 million homes. That project could be operational by the mid-2020s once the companies make a final investment decision.

— Marissa Luck