OTC – these letters announce the biggest event each year for people in the offshore petroleum industry, the Offshore Technology Conference at Reliant Center. It is actually one of the 10 largest conferences in the world with over 24,000 companies displaying their wares. Last year, over 67,000 people attended from all over the world.
So what would you expect to see at OTC? I expected to see pumps, pipes, valves, and safety devices – in other words, I expected very boring metal things that I would have no clue as to what they were used for.
Well, I did see all of that, but there was so much more! You know the old saying – the only difference between the men and the boys is the size of their toys. That certainly applies to this field.
There were not only models of everything imaginable, but also life-sized items as well. There was a truck whose tires alone were almost as tall as I am. (I stand at about 5 feet.)
There were all kinds of chains, rope, valves, gear, pipes, containers as large as rooms, shoes, gloves, sign makers, decking, hooks, rope and gears larger than you could imagine using.
There was so much technology that it was like visiting a gigantic Wiess Energy Hall! You could learn all about offshore exploration, production, transportation – you name it. One of my favorite things to see were the bunches of cables bound together and then sliced—they looked like sushi. They are truly works of art, yet created simply for their usefulness.
You could hear every language possible. I picked out Chinese, Nigerian, Japanese, Arabic, French, Spanish and several British accents, so I imagine there were many more. Several cities were mentioned over and over – Houston, Singapore, Aberdeen, Dubai, Stavanger.
Scattered throughout were two-story structures with meeting rooms below and open space above for attendees to relax. The needs of attendees were well accommodated, from shoeshine stalls to restaurant guides to airline information.
I wouldn’t expect the average person to attend the OTC, but if you ever get the chance, do. You will be dazzled by the sights. It is valuable to our community, and the world as a place to stay up to date on developing materials and technology in a field that is vital to our sustainability as a nation.