With an estimated $3 billion impact on the local economy, OTC 2024 featured a 1,300-company showcase as well as over 50 sessions. Photo via OTC/LinkedIn

55th annual OTC concludes with over 30,000 attendees, reported $3B impact on Houston economy

recap

That's a wrap on Offshore Technology Conference, which took place at NRG Park from Monday, May 6, to Thursday, May 9. The 55th annual conference welcomed over 30,000 participants from 107 countries to discuss the evolving offshore energy sector.

"It was inspiring to see the global energy community come together to discuss and partner in solutions that will shape a sustainable future," Alex Martinez, chair of the OTC board, says in a news release. "As the world’s population continues to grow and require more energy, there is no other event that provides attendees with more diverse conversations focused on the latest developments needed to accelerate the global energy mix.”

With an estimated $3 billion impact on the local economy, the four-day event featured a 1,300-company showcase as well as over 50 sessions, including panels, fireside chats, and networking events. Many of these sessions included thought leadership from Houston professionals overseeing energy transition initiatives at their respective companies.

Click here to read a round up of four fireside chats discussing clean energy, the future of work, and more.

In fact, OTC returned its Energy Transition Pavilion for 2024 to highlight innovative solutions within energy transition, which included geothermal energy, rig electrification, and the role of AI and data analytics. Additionally, the event featured its Offshore Wind Thread across three days of discussion.

OTC honored two sets of honorees throughout the week too. Three Distinguished Achievement Award recipients were honored at a reception ahead of the official conference and nine young professionals were named as the 2024 Emerging Leaders cohort on May 7.

The organization has already committed to returning to Houston next year. OTC 2025 will take place May 5 to 8, again at NRG Center.

Photo via OTC/LinkedIn

OTC’s annual Emerging Leaders program recognizes professionals with less than 10 years of experience in the offshore energy sector. Photo via LinkedIn

OTC names Houston professionals to 2024 class of emerging leaders

big winners

Nine people with ties to the Houston area have been named emerging leaders in the energy industry by the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC).

OTC’s annual Emerging Leaders program recognizes professionals with less than 10 years of experience in the offshore energy sector.

“This year's recipients embody the essence of what it means to be a young professional,” Alex Martinez, chair of the OTC board, says in a news release.

“Their commitment to excellence, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and unwavering passion for their work have set them apart. They have not only excelled in their field but have also shown remarkable leadership qualities, inspiring those around them to push beyond boundaries and explore new horizons.”

The 2024 honorees were recognized May 7 during an OTC ceremony at NRG Center. This year’s honorees with ties to the Houston area are:

  • Rebecca Caldwell, an exploration geologist at Chevron.
  • Jinbo Chen, associate professor in the School of Naval Architecture Ocean and Civil Engineering at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China. He is a former staff drilling engineer at Houston-based Shell USA.
  • Pankaj Goel, a projects adviser at Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • Mejdi Kammoun, a principal engineer at the Houston-based American Bureau of Shipping.
  • Mathilde Luycx, a petrophysicist for the technology and engineering business of Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • J. Michael Renning, an engineer at the Houston-based American Bureau of Shipping.
  • Jian “Jason” Shi, an assistant professor of engineering technology, electrical engineering, and computer engineering at the University of Houston.
  • Yan Wang, an advanced technology development engineer for the technology and engineering business of Spring-based ExxonMobil.
  • Luz Zarate, a marine technology research engineer at Houston-based Shell International Exploration and Production.

In a UH news release, Shi explains that his research centers on safety concerns associated with energy transition in the industry’s offshore sector.

Shi hopes his work helps share a future “where our world is powered by an abundance of innovative energy sources, where technology coexists harmoniously with nature, and where humanity embarks on bold adventures into uncharted territory.”

Work done by Kammoun, a UH alumnus, at the American Bureau of Shipping zeroes in on developing marine and offshore safety regulations and requirements for shipping of energy storage and generation systems.

“My aspirations have always centered around contributing to a safer, greener world,” Kammoun says. “Whether through innovative technologies, sustainable practices or policy advocacy, my dream remains unwavering: to leave a lasting positive impact on our planet.”

In a series of fireside chats, Houston energy leaders took the stage at OTC to discuss what their companies are doing in the energy transition space. Photo via LinkedIn

4 Houston energy execs sound off on future workforce, collaboration, and more at OTC

overheard

In addition to the massive exhibit floor, networking, and panels, the 2024 Offshore Technology Conference hosts thoughtful fireside chats with energy leaders throughout the ongoing conference taking place in Houston this week.

Four energy leaders from Houston took the stage to discuss what their companies are doing within the energy transition. Take a look at what topics each of the conversations tackled.

Chris Powers, vice president of CCUS at Chevron New Energies, on energy evolution and collaboration

Chris Powers introduced Chevron New Energies, an organization within Chevron that launched in 2021, to the crowd at OTC, describing the entity's focus points as CCUS, hydrogen, offsets and emerging technology, and renewable fuels — specifically things Chevron believes it has the competitive advantage.

One of the things Powers made clear in his fireside chat is that it's not going to be one, two, or even three technologies to significantly move the energy transition along, "it's going to take all the solutions to meet all the growing energy needs," he said.

And, he continued, this current energy transition the world is in isn't exactly new.

"We've been evolving our energy supply since the dawn of man," he said. "Our view is that the world has always been in an energy evolution."

"Hydrocarbons will continue to play a huge role in the years to come, and anyone who has a different view on that I think isn't being pragmatic," he continued.

Chevron has played a role in the clean energy market for decades, Powers said, pointing out Chevron Technology Ventures, which launched in the 1990s.

"No one can do this alone," he said, pointing specifically to the ongoing Bayou Bend joint venture that Chevron is working on with Equinor and TotalEnergies. "We have to bring together the right partners and the right skill sets."

Celine Gerson, group director, Americas, and president at Fugro USA, on the importance of data

Celine Gerson set the scene for Fugro, a geo data and surveying company that diversified its business beginning in 2015 to account for the energy transition. From traditional oil and gas to renewables, "it starts with the geo data," she said during her chat. She said big projects can't map out their construction without it, and then, when it comes to maintaining the equipment, the geo data is equally important.

Another message Gerson wanted to convey is that the skill sets from traditional offshore services translate to renewables. Fugro's employee base has evolved significantly over the past few years, and Gerson said that 50 percent of the workforce was hired over the past five years and 85 percent of the leadership has changed in the past seven.

Agility is what the industry needs, Celine Gerson said, adding that the "industry need to move fast and, in order to move fast, we need to look at things differently.

Attilio Pisoni, CTO of oilfield services and equipment at Baker Hughes, on the future workforce

In addition to the world making changes toward sustainability, the energy industry is seeing a workforce evolution as well, Attilio Pisoni said during his fireside chat, adding that inspiring a workforce is key to retention and encouraging innovation.

"We have a challenge in attracting young people," Pisoni said. "To be successful, you have to have a purpose."

That purpose? Combating climate change. And that, Pisoni said, needs to be able to be quantified. "As a society over all, we need to have a standard of measurement and accuracy in reporting," he said.

To future engineers, Pisoni emphasized the importance of learning outside your specific niche.

"Having seen where the world is now, whatever you study, have a concept and understanding of the system as a whole," he said.

Erik Oswald, vice president of advocacy and policy development at ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, on transferable skills from upstream

When he looks at renewables and new energy, Erik Oswald said he sees a significant similarity for the talent and skill sets required in upstream oil and gas.

"A lot of the same skills are coming into focus" within the energy transition," Oswald said, specifying CCS and upstream.

Even in light of the transferrable workforce, the industry faces needs to grow its workforce in a significant way to keep up with demand — and keeping in mind the younger generations coming onto the scene.

"We're talking about recreating the entire oil and gas industry," Oswald said on preparing the workforce for the future of the energy industry. "We have to do it, it's not an option."

Here's what you need to know before you go out to the event, which will take place Monday, May 6, to Thursday, May 9. Photo via NRG Park

Know before you go: Offshore Technology Conference 2024

things to know

An annual conference that showcases technology for the offshore energy business is taking over Houston's NRG Park for the majority of the week.

Here's what you need to know before you go out to the event, which will take place Monday, May 6, to Thursday, May 9.

Attend the Distinguished Achievement Awards on Sunday, May 5

OTC's annual awards reception, the Distinguished Achievement Awards, will kick off the week on May 5. The three award honorees for OTC 2024 have been named and will be honored at the event. Click here to learn more about this year's honorees.

Visit the Energy Transition Pavilion 

The Energy Transition Pavilion will feature panels and presentations about the future of sustainability in the energy industry. The programming takes place Monday through Wednesday, and the exhibit is located at NRG Center in Hall C.

Zoom in on offshore wind

This year, OTC is featuring a dedicated thread to offshore wind technology. A mix of panels, keynotes, and technical presentations, the programming will take place over Monday through Wednesday.

Don't miss the exhibition hall

Over a thousand companies will be exhibiting at OTC this year, and the hall can be a bit overwhelming. Check the program or the map online to see who's exhibiting and where to find them.

Catch the three university showcases 

OTC's University R&D Showcase will feature three schools — the University of Houston, Texas A&M International University, and the University of São Paulo. You can find each university's booth open all four days of OTC.

Texas' solar market will be missing about three hours of sunlight today — and more things to know this week. Photo courtesy of NASA

How the eclipse will test Texas' solar market, events not to miss, and more things to know in Houston energy

take note

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a roundup of events not to miss, what to expect from the eclipse, and more.


Eyes on ERCOT amid eclipse

For three hours today, Texas' solar energy market will be affected by the solar eclipse. According to a report from the Environment Texas Research & Policy Center, Texas ranks third in the U.S. for residential solar power generation, so the moon's interception to the sunlight can be a real test to ERCOT, which reported that they have worked with solar forecast vendors on what to expect from solar generation on the grid during the eclipse.

"As we did in preparation for the October 2023 eclipse, ERCOT is actively monitoring the forecasts and available dispatchable capacity for April 8," reads a statement from the organization's March report. "ERCOT will rely on Ancillary Services and other actions to posture the system as necessary during the eclipse to compensate for both the reduction and increase in solar generation on this day and maintain grid reliability. ERCOT has been engaging Market Participants so that they are prepared for the eclipse and expects sufficient generation to meet demand."

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • The Digital Wildcatters is hosting its Energy Tech Night in Houston on April 17. Register.
  • On April 17, the University of Houston presents "Gulf Coast Hydrogen Ecosystem: Opportunities & Solutions" featuring experts from academia, industry, government, and more. The symposium begins at 8 am with a networking reception takes place beginning at 5 pm at the University of Houston Student Center South - Theater Room. Register.
  • Ally Energy is hosting its Unconference - Energy 2.0 on April 18 to explore the energy renaissance. Register.
  • The inaugural, student-led TEX-E Conference is taking place on April 19 at TMC's Helix Park. The event’s mission is to empower budding student entrepreneurs to advance their climatetech ventures and inspire industry leaders to support these groundbreaking startups coming out of Texas’ universities. Register.
  • Offshore Technology Conference returns to Houston May 6 to 9. Register.

Really big deal: Shell's EV charging plans

As it downshifts sales of fuel for traditional vehicles, energy giant Shell is stepping up its commitment to public charging stations for electric vehicles.

In a new report on energy transition, Shells lays out an aggressive plan for growing its public network of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs). The company plans to boost the global number of public EV charging stations from about 54,000 today to around 70,000 by 2025 and about 200,000 by 2030.

The projected growth from today to 2030 would represent a 270 percent increase in the number of Shell-operated EV charging stations.

“We have a major competitive advantage in terms of locations, as our global network of service stations is one of the largest in the world,” Shell says in the report. Read the full story.

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Houston company tests ​all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology

results are in

Houston-based clean energy company Syzygy Plasmonics has successfully tested all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology at RTI International’s facility at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

Syzygy says the technology can significantly decarbonize transportation by converting two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into low-carbon jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.

Equinor Ventures and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas sponsored the pilot project.

“This project showcases our ability to fight climate change by converting harmful greenhouse gases into fuel,” Trevor Best, CEO of Syzygy, says in a news release.

“At scale,” he adds, “we’re talking about significantly reducing and potentially eliminating the carbon intensity of shipping, trucking, and aviation. This is a major step toward quickly and cost effectively cutting emissions from the heavy-duty transport sector.”

At commercial scale, a typical Syzygy plant will consume nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road.

“The results of this demonstration are encouraging and represent an important milestone in our collaboration with Syzygy,” says Sameer Parvathikar, director of renewable energy and energy storage at RTI.

In addition to the CO2-to-fuel demonstration, Syzygy's Ammonia e-Cracking™ technology has completed over 2,000 hours of performance and optimization testing at its plant in Houston. Syzygy is finalizing a site and partners for a commercial CO2-to-fuel plant.

Syzygy is working to decarbonize the chemical industry, responsible for almost 20 percent of industrial CO2 emissions, by using light instead of combustion to drive chemical reactions.

Barge hits bridge connecting Galveston and Pelican Island, causing partial collapse and oil spill

A barge slammed into a bridge pillar in Galveston, Texas, on Wednesday, spilling oil into waters near busy shipping channels and closing the only road to a small neighboring island. No injuries were reported.

The impact sent pieces of the bridge, which connects Galveston to Pelican Island, tumbling on top of the barge and shut down a stretch of waterway so crews could clean up the spill. The accident knocked one man off the vessel and into the water, but he was quickly recovered and was not injured, said Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Ray Nolen.

Ports along the Texas coast are hubs of international trade, but experts said the collision was unlikely to result in serious economic disruptions since it occurred in a lesser-used waterway. The island is on the opposite side of Galveston Island’s beaches that draw millions of tourists each year.

The accident happened shortly before 10 a.m. after a tugboat operator pushing two barges lost control of them, said David Flores, a bridge superintendent with the Galveston County Navigation District.

“The current was very bad, and the tide was high," Flores said. “He lost it.”

Pelican Island is only a few miles wide and is home to Texas A&M University at Galveston, a large shipyard and industrial facilities. Fewer than 200 people were on the campus when the collision happened, and all were eventually allowed to drive on the bridge to leave. The marine and maritime research institute said it plans to remain closed until at least Friday. Students who live on campus were allowed to remain there, but university officials warned those who live on campus and leave “should be prepared to remain off campus for an unknown period of time.”

The accident came weeks after a cargo ship crashed into a support column of the Francis Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, killing six construction workers.

The tugboat in Texas was pushing bunker barges, which are fuel barges for ships, Flores said. The barge, which is owned by Martin Petroleum, has a 30,000-gallon capacity, but it's not clear how much leaked into the bay, said Galveston County spokesperson Spencer Lewis. He said about 6.5 miles (10.5 kilometers) of the waterway were shut down because of the spill.

The affected area is miles away from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, which sees frequent barge traffic, and the Houston Ship Channel, a large shipping channel for ocean-going vessels. Aside from the environmental impact of the spill, the region is unlikely to see large economic disruption as a result of the accident, said Marcia Burns, a maritime transportation expert at the University of Houston

“Because Pelican Island is a smaller location, which is not in the heart of commercial events, then the impact is not as devastating," Burns said. “It’s a relatively smaller impact.”

At the bridge, a large piece of broken concrete and debris from the railroad hung over the side and on top of the barge that rammed into the passageway. Flores said the rail line only serves as protection for the structure and has never been used.

Opened in 1960, the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge was rated as “Poor” according to the Federal Highway Administration’s 2023 National Bridge Inventory released last June.

The overall rating of a bridge is based on whether the condition of any of its individual components — the deck, superstructure, substructure or culvert, if present — is rated poor or below.

In the case of the Pelican Island Causeway Bridge, inspectors rated the deck in “Satisfactory Condition,” the substructure in “Fair Condition” and the superstructure — or the component that absorbs the live traffic load — in “Poor Condition.”

The Texas Department of Transportation had been scheduled in the summer of 2025 to begin construction on a project to replace the bridge with a new one. The project was estimated to cost $194 million. In documents provided during a virtual public meeting last year, the department said the bridge has “reached the end of its design lifespan, and needs to be replaced.” The agency said it has spent over $12 million performing maintenance and repairs on the bridge in the past decade.

The bridge has one main steel span that measures 164 feet (50 meters), and federal data shows it was last inspected in December 2021. It’s unclear from the data if a state inspection took place after the Federal Highway Administration compiled the data.

The bridge had an average daily traffic figure of about 9,100 cars and trucks, according to a 2011 estimate.

___

Lozano reported from Houston. Associated Press reporters Christopher L. Keller in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Valerie Gonzalez in McAllen, Texas; Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas; and Ken Miller in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

ExxonMobil, Intel eye sustainable solutions within data center innovation

the view from heti

Two multinational corporations have announced a new collaboration to create energy-efficient and sustainable solutions for data centers as the market experiences significant growth.

ExxonMobil and Intel are working to design, test, research and develop new liquid cooling technologies to optimize data center performance and help customers meet their sustainability goals. Liquid cooling solutions serve as an alternative to traditional air-cooling methods in data centers.

“Our partnership with ExxonMobil to co-develop turnkey solutions for liquid cooling will enable significant energy and water savings for data center and network deployments,” said Jen Huffstetler, Chief Product Sustainability Officer, Intel.

According to consulting firm McKinsey, “a hyperscaler’s data center can use as much power as 80,000 households do,” and that demand is expected to keep surging. Power consumption by the U.S. data center market is forecasted “to reach 35 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, up from 17 GW in 2022,” according to a McKinsey analysis. Artificial intelligence and machine learning, and other advanced computing techniques are increasing computational workloads, and in return, increasing electricity demand. Therefore, companies are searching for solutions to support this growth.

ExxonMobil launched its full portfolio of data center immersion fluid products last year. The partnership with Intel will allow them to further advance their efforts in this market.

“By integrating ExxonMobil’s proven expertise in liquid cooling technologies with Intel’s long legacy of industry leadership in world-changing computing technologies, together we will further the industry’s adoption and acceptance as it transitions to liquid cooling technologies,” said Sarah Horne, Vice President, ExxonMobil.

Learn more about this collaboration here.

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This article originally ran on the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit htxenergytransition.org.