Leading lights in the Scottish service sector are in the US this weekend as the hours tick away before the opening of the world’s biggest oil show.
Visitors from around the globe are gathering in Houston for the Offshore Technology Conference, where the latest inventions will be on display and firms will be hoping to pick up lucrative contracts.
About 450 delegates are on the annual visit to OTC organised by Munro’s Travel Group, of Aberdeen, and the Press and Journal. Managing partner Jack Burnett said yesterday: “We have never had this number of people with us to the show before. It is a reflection of the buoyant mood in the oil industry.”
The Munro’s/P&J group was given an increased allocation of 380 rooms at the delegation’s HQ hotel – the Hilton Houston Post Oak – but all were soon snapped up. A further 40-50 hotel rooms have been booked in the vicinity of the HQ hotel, which has now been the gathering point for Scottish delegates for 25 years.
Prominent figures from the north-east energy industry in Houston for OTC include Douglas Craig, managing director of Craig Group, Qserv MD Tommy Dreelan and Balmoral Group chairman Jim Milne.
The US show runs from Monday to Thursday and Aberdeen Lord Provost Peter Stephen said: “It is our great pleasure to be in attendance.
“It remains such an important event in the industry calendar as evidenced by the strong demand we have had to exhibit on the Aberdeen City and Shire stand.
“Aberdeen-based energy businesses will be at the exhibition in good numbers to showcase the very latest in technology and innovation. I expect we will see a great deal of interest generated by our exhibitors and a good many new deals brokered too.”
Many Scottish firms which support those involved in the oil business are also in Houston for the show.
Malcolm Laing, a corporate partner with law firm Ledingham Chalmers in Aberdeen, said: “As we head off to OTC, we are certainly in one of the most interesting periods in the history of the oil and gas industry.
“With a record oil price, high levels of operational activity, an acknowledged labour shortage, amid a weak US dollar, a major credit squeeze and the threat of world recession, it will be interesting to see how the global industry is facing the challenges at the show.
“The mood in Aberdeen, however, remains confident and optimistic . . . and we are looking forward to further growth in business in the oil and gas sector.”
More than 67,000 people from 100-plus countries visited OTC last year – a 25-year high – and organisers are expecting another big attendance this year.
Don Vardeman, the 2008 OTC chairman, said: “OTC is where the offshore exploration and production industry comes to launch new technology and to share the latest innovations. The exhibition area is larger than ever with expanded outdoor exhibits.”