Attendance could be down from previous years, but attendees are finding opportunities to buy and not break the budget

With the 2016 Offshore Technology Conference entering its third of four days today, there is one theme that keeps coming up — finding new technology or ways to do business, but not destroying a budget.

“Many of us are just here looking at the new technology and seeing how these manufacturers can work with us on the cost,” says Gordon Niwers, of Dallas, Texas, as he stood with other engineers from his company that does drilling throughout Texas. “It’s a tough industry right now and we’re trying to find new technologies that won’t break the bank.”

Solomon Erhenede Omo, from Nigeria, says he came to OTC to look for oilfield technology, but he says he’ll buy less because low prices are slashing his company’s revenues.

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Exhibitors are aware of this and are trying to find ways to help potential customers feel more at ease with spending money. “There is now a sensitivity to price,” says Robert Warren, vice president of global sales and distribution for Red Wing Shoes. “The main focus we have is trying to find the balance. We try to focus on safety being an investment, not a cost.”

Attendance appears down
Another big affect of the oil downturn has been the attendance at Offshore Technology Conference. While numbers for this year haven’t officially been released yet, exhibitors are noticing a decline.

“The energy isn’t the same,” says Murad Said, project manager at Cladteck, an oilfield services company in Brazil. “Last year, people were very excited and happy to be at the conference. But we’re not seeing that this time.”

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Said and other exhibitors say gone is the vigor, electricity and optimism that ran through the exhibit hall last year.

OTC drew more than 108,000 people in 2014, but attendance fell to about 95,000 in 2015, the first full year of the downturn. Conference organizers say they expect a lower turnout this year. Traffic on the main exhibit floor of the conference appeared lighter than usual on both Monday and Tuesday.

“Last year it was just wall to wall,” says Manuel Lozano, with electronic manufacturer Nicomatic. “There were lines for the food. There were lines for everything.”

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Exhibitors are less likely to drop out of the show, partly because they would lose their booth location and it could cause customers to worry.

“If we don’t come, people are going to think we’re out of business,” says Richard Stone, president of Innovative Electronics in Stafford, Texas, which manufacturers electronics for rigs. “So we need to be here.”

Open Access Day
OTC announced Tuesday that it will again offer complimentary one-day registration during Open Access Day on Thursday. OTC says attendees will be able to take advantage of the complimentary registration to build relationships, increase industry knowledge and sharpen skills with professional development programming.

Registration for Open Access Day is online at the OTC’s website at and on-site at NRG Center starting at 4 p.m. today.

On Open Access Day, attendees can visit the exhibits as well as attend two professional development sessions that day.

The floor is open until 5:30 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

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