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By Brennan Stark, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Offshore Technology Conference, arguably the world’s leading exhibition of offshore resource development strategies, ventured for the very first time outside its native Houston, Texas to meet in Rio de Janeiro’s Riocentro convention center last October 4th-6th.  The OTC Brasil 2011 Conference and Exhibition was a premier event sponsored by OTC that aimed to address the latest technical advances and challenges of deepwater offshore drilling, both in Brazilian and other international waters.

OTC Brasil 2011 Conference and Exhibition
A poster advertising OTC's first venture outside its native Houston, photo by Cat Oil & Gas Resource Center.

The inaugural event attracted more than 10,000 attendees and 400 companies representing 23 countries.  Two exhibit halls measuring over 11,500 net square meters housed numerous demonstrations of the latest technological advancements from the E&P (Exploration and Production) community, with ninety of the exhibiting companies being from Brazil.

Topics discussed at the convention included “offshore drilling and wells systems, floating structures, and advanced subsea production,” according to chief engineer of BP David Brookes.  Technical programs emphasizing the safety concerns and challenges associated with offshore exploration were held alongside instructional seminars on harnessing Brazil’s trove of oceanic resources.

On the second day of the event over 100 young professionals under the age of 35 attended a panel discussion on developing a career in E&P, and on Thursday a conference exchanged ideas on how to properly supply technology to meet Brazil’s resource development needs.

Although OTC Brasil’s theme and discussion topics largely resembled that of its predecessor exhibition in Houston, it did deliver on its promise to provide a “unique Brazilian flair” by “offering Brazilian cultural events and contributions to social programs in Brazil” alongside the usual networking opportunities.

Three Brazilian organizations joined the event for the first time, including the Associação Brasileira de Engenharia Química, Associação Brasileira de Geólogos de Petróleo, and the Sociedade Brasileira de Geofísicos, with speakers from Brazil’s Agencia Nacional do Petroleo (ANP) and the US Commerce Department.

An advertisement for OTC's new overseas event, image recreation.

According to OTC Brasil’s official press release, organizers’ expectations were exceeded as thousands gathered in the pavilions to witness demonstrations from the hundreds of represented companies.

Program Committee co-chairman Ricardo Juiniti of OGX, the largest privately owned oil company in Brazil, stated, “We were extremely pleased with the turnout and success of the conference.  The time was right to bring OTC to Brazil.  The region is rapidly gearing up to be one of the world’s largest offshore producers, and gathering the most influential associations and players in the industry will be a catalyst in developing the Brazilian offshore resources.”

As successful as organizers described it to be, it was not as massive as the original held in Texas. Longtime Rio resident and professional working in the E&P industry Jim Kappeler, who has frequented the Houston’s OTC previously, thought that the event was about “one fifth the size of both the Houston OTC and the Rio Oil and Gas [show].”

Petronotícias, a website providing information on the oil, gas, and energy sectors, released a newsletter that pointed out the curious absence of Brazilian oil giant Petrobras from the conference, whose small handful of employees that did show up in no way constituted an official appearance by the conglomerate.

OTC Brasil organizers remained enthusiastic and hopeful for the event’s future, however. The second edition of OTC Brasil, which will take place on October 8th-10th, 2013, has already had its place reserved.

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