Blog: Offshore Technology Conference – Day 5

Martin Ewan, a Partner in the Energy and Natural Resources practice at Pinsent Masons, looks back on a thought-provoking week at the world’s largestenergy event.

Friday May 4th 12:00 GMT

As the Houston skyline disappears in the rear-view mirror and we head for George Bush International Airport, it’s a chance to reflect on this year’s conference.  On acquaintances, renewed and created.  On predictions for activity and trends for 2012 and beyond.  On threats and opportunities for the industry, the economy and our businesses.

The UK/US relationship is undoubtedly “special” for both countries – we are and remain cousins, alike in more ways than we differ.  But the description of us as “two nations divided by a common language” has come to mind on several occasions this trip -when a basketball coach was described by a newspaper as “the all-time winningest”.  Now that’s a word!

And we have our own distinct issues even within the energy industry.  The UK population distribution historically followed the coal mine distribution.  The US population historically populated the Eastern and Western seaboards first.  This contrasts with the shale distribution which is largely inland (having been largely created by the carbon deposits from the Western Interior Seaway from the Cretaceous period).  

So infrastructure developments connecting the supply of these by tanker /pipeline to the people who will process and consume the energy will have to take place.  Along with potentially greater population migration over time.   And another unique issue in the US – the National Congress of American Indians estimates that a quarter of the country’s oil and gas reserves are on tribal land – meaning they are under the control of the sovereign entities.  Exploration and production will therefore need to involve federal, state and tribal co-ordination.  Potentially an opportunity for the Indians to share in the coming energy revolution. It will be fascinating.