More than 2,000 oil and gas professionals from around the world gathered in London late February for the International Petroleum (IP) Week to listen to senior energy industry figures and share knowledge and experience through the many networking opportunities on offer. The Energy Institute organizes this three-day annual conference with a focus on topics such as demand growth and the latest developments in technology to improve security of supply.
Although not an event traditionally attended by the typical GEO ExPro reader, upstream projects will obviously have downstream impact in the future and represent an important part of the supply equation. Several presenters represented the Exploration and Production community, including Patrice de Vives, Senior Vice President for Northern Europe with Total, who gave an optimistic view of E&P developments in the North Sea in light of recent discoveries in North West Europe.
In the Energy Africa session Angus McCoss, Director Exploration with Tullow Oil, provided an update on their fascinating project history in Ghana and how his company is ‘exporting’ their successful exploration ideas to other countries in Africa as well as to corresponding basins in South America. Kwabena Donkor, Chief Executive of the Petroleum Commission in Ghana, gave another enthusiastic presentation of his country. In addition to describing the opportunities for E&P companies to secure licenses, he explained how gas (more than oil) is expected to have a better ‘multiplier effect’ for the local society, as it can be used in power generation and to support Ghana’s dominating agricultural industry. Being “at the center of the world” (as the country where the zero longitude and latitude cross!) Mr. Donkor was also advocating Ghana as an excellent basis for doing business in the region in general, with a much more stable regime than that of many of their neighbors.
New Recruits Sought
Over the course of the IP Week, two of the continuing themes of discussion were the acute shortage of talent and the need to educate the general public about the industry’s safety records and how the risks attached to projects in frontier areas are mitigated. Louise Kingham, Chief Executive of the Energy Institute, said: “Much more needs to be done to promote science and engineering skills, to encourage young people to consider an energy career and become part of the generation to lead the industry into the future”.
To support those new to the industry, the Energy Institute hosted a professional development program for recent graduates during the IP Week. This included sessions on developing networking skills and attending career surgeries to hear from industry executives on how to get ahead. Even if the number of participants at the IP Week conference is limited to a few hundred, there were 1,300 guests at the traditional IP Week dinner, with oil company executives ‘flying in from Houston’ just for the dinner. London-based companies also used the opportunity to organize parallel events during the week. In addition, more than 100 registered journalists attended, which means that events can expect good publicity.
Two traditional highlights are the IP Week lunch and dinner. Charles Hendry, the UK Energy Minister, was guest speaker at the IP Week lunch and used the opportunity to express the need to work closer with the industry to improve predictability around future policy making.
The dinner during the 2012 IP Week was number 98 of its kind! The Institute of Petroleum, which merged into the Energy Institute in 2003, started in 1913 and organized the first dinner. Bob Dudley, Group Chief Executive, BP, who was the guest speaker at this year’s dinner, concluded the IP Week by reiterating the role the oil and gas industry has to play in future energy supply and the challenges of meeting increased demand with new technologies and exploration of new frontiers. He recognized that the industry needs to face up to scrutiny and also must engage with society more to gain their understanding.
The 2013 IP Week is held in London February 18 to 20 next year.