HOUSTON, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Searching for oil is getting harder as it goes faster, safer, farther and deeper under the world's seas, said industry sellers and buyers of technical equipment on Monday, the first day of the four-day Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) held in the fourth largest U.S. city of Houston.
The good news is that new technologies are rising to the global challenge, making it possible to ensure that oil production will be a staple of the energy field for at least the next century if not the next 200 years, said oil production company experts who exhibited their newest innovations at the OTC, one of the world's largest offshore technology shows.
Gardiner Henderson is a spokesman for Eaton Cooper. The business stems from a merger earlier this year of Eaton, a business that builds hydrolic systems, with Cooper Industries, which supplies lighting, safety and housing systems for the oil and gas industry.
"For offshore, we're going into deeper water. It's more challenging, so we've got a lot of products that are providing ways to address those challenges," said Henderson, who said the company has on and offshore facilities all over the world.
There's no doubt, Henderson said, that the oil business is booming.
"The capital investment for the oil and gas industry this year is 1.2 trillion (U.S.) dollars," he said.
"Basically what we're seeing right now is we see the market continuing. We know there's a lot of investments being made in a lot of the deep water areas," said Steve Racca, vice president of MacDermid Offshore Solutions. The Texas-based company manufactures a water-based hydrolic fluid that is used to control the sub-sea systems.
Racca said some areas of Asia are increasing their offshore drilling.
"We are seeing projects in the South China sea and areas in Vietnam that are starting to get a little deeper," Racca said.
He said there is also a lot of offshore drilling going on now in South America, West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico, which is becoming more active again since the BP oil spill led to new standards in safety.
"That spill is setting a new standard," Racca said. "There are increased safety measures put in place that is becoming the industry standard. Everything throughout the industry is picking up and we don't see an end in sight as long as it's oil."
Help in cleaning up that oil spill was one of the early jobs of Chukar Water Jet Inc., a company based in St. Michael, Minnesota, that makes water jet equipment for sub-sea salvage, pipeline maintenance and repair, well decommissioning and hydrating remediation.
"We can see the continued activity in offshore oil drilling, not just in the Gulf of Mexico, but around the world, including Asia and Eurasian regions," said Bruce Kivisto, Chukar's general manager. "Everything today is farther, faster, better."
"It's always going to be a growth area. There's always a demand for very safe, reliable equipment for offshore use even more than land-leased use," said Ted Flatt, marketing director, Doosan Portable Power, a North Carolina company that builds air compressors and mobile generators. "Offshore drilling is a safe bet for people to invest in? Oh, absolutely."
Halliburton, one of the world's largest providers of products and services to the energy industry, agrees. The company, which is in about 80 countries serving the upstream oil and gas industry, finds hydrocarbons and manages geological data, as well as drills, performs formation evaluations, builds wells and optimizes production.
"Oil and gas development in deep water is an essential part of the U.S. and global energy future," said Halliburton's chief operating officer, Jeff Miller. "There's a fairly broad consensus that world oil demand will grow at about 1.5 percent per year for the foreseeable future. Successful deepwater exploration is critical to the future of the oil and gas industry."
Drilling EXchange, a new Woodlands, Texas, company that combines oilfield drilling equipment and the Internet was launched Monday at OTC, and the people behind it say they are assured that they have found a one-of-a-kind, profitable niche market in a growing oil drilling industry.
"We think people are going to be using oil and gas for the next 200 years," said Dan Henderson, chief executive officer and former oil industry executive. "This business is the eBay of the oil industry where we put together buyers and sellers of oil industry equipment, but without the fees. It's a subscription-based service. I'm taking what I've learned from the oil business and the Internet and putting it all together in a business model."
By noon Monday, dozens of new subscribers had signed on.
"Based on what we're seeing, people like it," Henderson said.
The offshore technology industry has been so good that T-Rex Engineering, which had limited its engineering construction and design of sub-sea structures to the Gulf of Mexico, has recently had its first global outreach, said the company's chief executive officer Mike Gore.
"We are currently working on a project with Equador where we have designed and fabricated three shallow water jacket structures for offshore oil and gas," Gore said. "Our niche is more sub-sea and this year alone, we have tripled from where we were last year."
Jaap Vaandrager heads MH Hydrolics DV based in the Netherlands, which repairs and services hydrolic parts and systems and has also recently expanded its services to include training for the oil patch on or offshore. There aren't enough qualified technicians and engineers, he said, to keep up with demand in the oil patch.
"A year ago, we bought the company and we found out it was important to create a training arm," Vaandrager said. "We now have a franchise system and we go around the world and teach people how to repair parts. If they use our parts, of course, that's even better."
Vaandrager said the training portion of the company is thriving.
"We have people who are exploring the markets particularly in China and India," Vaandrager said. "I see a problem having enough qualified technicians, so we are technically training, retraining and requalifying people in countries with large populations to work in the oil and gas industry."
Cliff Berry, vice president of global business development for Centek, Inc., headquartered in Oklahoma, said his business manufactures parts, predominately centralizers, for the oil and gas industry. Over the last five years, he said, business has increased 38 percent to 43 percent each year.
"By 2015, over 65 percent of wells drilled will be in the states, so we opened a mirror operation to the one we have in Devon (England) in Oklahoma City to position ourselves in the states," Berry said. "We see the trend is for oil and gas parts and accessories to be about 1.5 billion (U.S. dollars) by 2015."
Asia, he said, is the place where the company is looking to locate its third facility.
"Our investors are incredibly happy," he said. "We've taken the company from basically nothing to nearly a hundred million-dollar company in 13 years. So they're plenty happy."