OTC Report 2009

May 4 - 6, 2009

Peer Fietzek and Monika Krivickaite were the second Messe Mentees at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas.


Big Business in Houston

In the time from May 4th till May 6th 2009 Houston, Texas, hosted the world’s largest show of the offshore industry: the 40th Offshore Technology Conference (OTC). Among the more than 65000 visitors from all over the world were two ISOS Ph.D. candidates, taking part in the “Messe-Mentoring” program offered by the department of Technology Transfer of the Excellence Cluster and the Integrated School of Ocean Sciences (ISOS). Monika Krivickaite does her PhD in international law of the sea at the Walther-Schuecking-Institute and deals with the legislative background of the Nord Stream pipeline in the Baltic Sea. In his work Peer Fietzek develops and optimizes underwater CO2 sensors within a collaboration of the Chemical Oceanography department at the GEOMAR and the sensor manufacturer CONTROS. The mentor was Dr. Warner Brückmann, who is a Senior Scientist in the department of Marine Geosystems at the GEOMAR.

The OTC is both an industrial show with more than 2500 exhibitors of the branch and at the same time a conference with technical and panel sessions. The exhibitors are mainly the major oil and gas companies as well as their suppliers and subcontractors. Hence anything ranging from diesel-engines over pipelines, underwater offshore structures over anchor chains and lifeboats as well as survey tasks and acoustic prospecting services were promoted. National pavilions host many different companies or institutions of respective nationality under one roof. The combined stand of the Kiel Cluster of Excellence “Future Ocean”, the GEOMAR and the company CONTROS was found in OTC’s main hall within the German pavilion.

Personal report – Peer Fietzek

I really appreciate that I was given the chance to attend OTC09 within the framework of the “Messe Mentoring” program. Within this paragraph I would like to give a short report on how I experienced this event.

Due to the vast dimensions of the convention site, it already took considerable time to just walk through the halls and pass by all exhibitors. The products offered and services promoted were versatile and interesting. As far as products were concerned the companies offering various gas sensors for oilrigs as well as refineries provided good inspiration of how industrial gas sensing products should look like and which properties they should feature.

Technical sessions dealing with economical aspects of natural gas hydrates provided state of the art information on extraction and transport of this potential future energy resource. An interesting and valuable highlight was the 2 ½ hour panel session on climate change, where noted US scientists from e.g. the National Center for Atmospheric research and NOAA discussed and presented this issue for an audience consisting of mainly engineers with oil and gas company affiliations. With my background knowledge adopted from various talks at the GEOMAR, I was well prepared for this event. Talking to one of the speakers later proved that the GEOMAR and some of its scientists are well reputable worldwide.

It was one of my intentions at the OTC to talk to as many companies as possible and to find out, whether there was a market for industrial underwater CO2 sensors. In general, O&G companies showed large interest in underwater gas sensors (for hydrocarbons) for the surveillance of pipelines or subsea structures. Explicitly for the topic of CO2 sequestration I could find out that the major players such as Schlumberger, Shell, Petrobras and contractors like Aker Solutions have started special projects or even formed special CO2 divisions within their companies. I could talk to many people and had some fruitful e-mail conversations after the event.

Due to its size and the fact that it is one of, if not the most important event of the branch, it provided a unique insight. The “Messe Mentoring” in general allows entering a stage, where one can learn, practice and improve important soft skills such as getting in touch with people and presenting oneself effectively. Finally, most of the scientists graduating from research institutes or universities will not stay at these institutions, but rather have to make the not always easy jump into the industrial world.

This step can and should be prepared to make this transition as smooth and successful as possible. Here the “Messe Mentoring” is a perfect mean. Visiting industrial fairs and conferences within the graduate studies is exactly the right action at the right time to start networking and getting acquainted with possible business fields. This help for orientation is valuable and highly appreciated.

Personal report – Monika Krivickaite

The organization of the OTC – world’s foremost event for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration and environmental protection – and choice of venue was impressive right from the start. Since the main focus of my doctoral thesis is to analyze the central legal issues of international and European law related to the implementation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, it was particularly important for me to talk with representatives from the pipeline industry and to get information about their practical experience dealing with the regulatory procedures on the laying, maintenance, protection and repair of submarine pipelines. Although I represent a completely different field of expertise as the exhibitors, most of them gladly answered my questions and were interested to discuss not only technical Issues, but also economic and political aspects of transboundary pipelines or the protection of the environment by laying them on the ground of the sea.

In addition to the exhibits, the technical conferences, which were running concurrently during the show, were an important part of the overall program; this year’s event featured about 250 technical presentations. Representatives from e.g. “Shell”, “Petrobras” and the pipeline industry gave presentations about design and installation of submarine pipelines and industry practices with regard to the protection and repair of pipelines. Due to the presentations in the sessions dedicated to offshore pipelines I got the background information necessary for a discussion of the law and policy issues in my PhD thesis. As always at these conferences it is not only the formal presentations that everyone benefits of so much, it is the opportunity to talk to the world’s experts about any aspect of offshore technology.

OTC 2009 was enormously inspiring and gave me lots of ideas and information for my future work on the dissertation. I greatly appreciate the ISOS sponsorship and the opportunity to attend OTC 2009. I hope that other PhD Candidates of ISOS will also benefit from the “Messe Mentoring” program and gain as much from the experience as I have.