By Andrew Willis, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference, perhaps the most important event of its kind in South America, is set to run next week (September 17th-20th) in the Riocentro Convention Centre in Barra de Tijuca. Organizers of the biennial event are expecting a record turnout of 55,000 visitors from over fifty countries at the expo this year, with 1,300 exhibitors.
This year marks the 16th edition of the industry gathering. “The event has grown and strengthened in parallel with the changes in the Brazilian and global oil and gas industry,” according to event organizers the IBP (the Brazilian Oil, Gas and Biofuels Institute). “In the 1980s the event occupied two pavilions in Riocentro, now we occupy all five.”
Running in parallel to the expo, a four-day conference is expected to attract roughly 4,300 people, with keynote speakers including the CEOs of Shell and Repsol, as well as the presidents of the World Petroleum Council and the International Gas Union, among others.
Plenary session topics include the role of the petroleum industry in promoting sustainable economic development, challenges to energy supply in the 21st Century and offshore operational safety. “We have managed to broaden and deepen the discussion of topics … trying to always include foreign speakers,” said the organizers.
A number of new themes will be addressed this year, including the issue of non-conventional gas, especially shale gas, which has revolutionized the U.S. gas market and is now being explored for across Latin America and the rest of the globe.
Writing in the August newsletter of the IBP, the institute’s head of gas, Jorge Delmonte, said that after the tragedy that took place at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, gas power generation assumed “great and instantaneous” importance.
This year the Rio expo and conference are running under the slogan: ‘Innovation and growth with responsibility’. In keeping with this message, an area of the exhibition will be dedicated to improving social and environmental responsibility within the oil and gas sector.
“The industry is aware of its risks, but also the importance of sustainability for the planet and for future generations,” say event organizers. A series of legal cases against U.S. oil major Chevron are ongoing in Brazil after offshore oil seeps were discovered last November.
The expo and conference constitute an important date in Rio’s corporate calendar, helping to fill the city’s top hotels and restaurants as senior oil and gas executives flock to Rio to take advantage of networking opportunities and the chance to catch up on the latest technology.
It also comes at an interesting juncture for the oil and gas industry in Brazil. Delays in developing the much-anticipated pre-salt oil fields off the Brazilian coast have led to considerable debate, while the country’s state-run oil giant, Petrobras, recently reporting its first quarterly loss in over a decade.