Blog: Offshore Technology Conference – Day 3

Today’s theme was innovation. Maybe not surprising at a global technology showcase, but innovation in interesting ways.

Wednesday May 2nd, 11:00 GMT
Martin Ewan, Partner in the Energy and Natural Resources group, Pinsent Masons

Innovative application of horizontal drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing to revolutionise the US energy market and collapse the gas price. Innovative approaches to combat fuel cost uncertainty, when Delta Airlines bought an oil refinery, to cut their main input cost by an anticipated $300m. And innovative engagement by universities with their alumni community to ensure they can meet the commercial and post-grad needs of the 21st century. A big challenge, being taken head-on by our best institutions. The war for talent is not unique to the legal sector, or even the UK.

The other hot topic – particularly dear to lawyers’ hearts – was regulation. And how it has been tightened post-Macondo. A new Health & Safety regime for the Gulf of Mexico means inspection and certification activities will increase. A correlative increase in people employed in this area is inevitable, raising questions of a US/Gulf of Mexico skills gap and the requirement in boost cultural awareness. The Uk’s Piper Alpha experience and subsequent Cullen Report learnings from 25 years ago may be very relevant.

And lastly, in an industry aiming at FCPA/ Bribery Act compliance (often in tricky jurisdictions, with differing moral approaches), the story of WalMart’s operations in Mexico is fascinating US commentators and compliance officers at the conference. There is nothing quite like a frenzied media to focus the mind.