Upbeat, exciting, huge.
You get the picture.
We’re talking February 2006 NAPE in Houston. The increasingly popular prospect expo maxed out with a record-setting 12,750 attendees, making it the granddaddy of all NAPE get-togethers thus far.
“The atmosphere was electric on the floor of the George R. Brown Convention Center,” said attendee Gerrit Wind of Wind & Associates. “There was a lot of buzz in the air, a lot of people talking and a lot of people at the booths.”
The expo was sponsored by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), where it originated, and its NAPE partners, AAPG, SEG and IPAA.
“NAPE is an exciting mix of the business, networking and hype,” said Rick Fritz, AAPG executive director. “It is one of the few exhibitions where land meets the seas of geology and geophysics.
Fritz said it was exciting for AAPG to be part of such a large and dynamic event that will help define the industry’s exploration future.
“The most common phrase I heard around the hall was, ‘Well, the Lord gave us another boom -- now, what did we say we were not going to do with it?’
“AAPG is happy to be a partner in this event,” he said. “It is a good complement to the mix of science, technology and business at our annual meeting. We see it as a real service to our members and the petroleum industry.”
AAPG President Pete Rose was among the thousands at NAPE, and the event’s electrifying activity gave him plenty of reasons to smile.
“I’m so proud that we’re part of it,” Rose said. “We are a scientific and professional association, and our involvement with NAPE is a service to our profession.
“Just like we facilitate science, we facilitate the fruits of scientific work in the geologic marketplace,” he continued. “This dual function -- science and implementation of science -- is what distinguishes us from other associations.”
Rose praised Fritz and AAPG past president Steven Sonnenberg “for having the vision and determination to make this happen for AAPG -- we’re serving our members.”
He also said the event was evidence that with “the existence of a vital, free market ... investment capital will flow.
“Adam Smith would have loved it,” he said. “Deals were being made.”
The Big Picture
Day One of the big event featured an international forum on “International E&P Business Dynamics: Implications for IOCs,” a two-part session moderated by Pete Stark, vice president of IHS industry relations.
The session kicked off with the IHS International Strategic Issues Panel, followed by an Industry Executive Panel and presentations on a variety of topics, including the challenges a small start-up independent faces in international E&P and the challenges of international growth for a large independent.
An International Prospect Promotion Forum dominated the afternoon agenda.
Wind noted the international forum overall was jam-packed with attendees.
An array of service company vendors were ensconced alongside the smorgasbord of drilling prospects available for sale in the prospect exhibit hall. And the capital providers turned out en masse -- a testimony to prosperous times in the industry.
The global aspect of the NAPE confab was evident among the prospects.
“The international portion broadened it into more of a worldwide scope,” Wind noted, “with everything from Australia to Canada and all points in between. It was interesting to see a Kazhakstan prospect next to one from Italy, and then one row over to have Liberty County (Texas) prospects and then some from the Louisiana parishes.”
Not surprisingly, prospects from the highly productive states of Louisiana and Texas appeared to dominate the show.
Given the throngs in the exhibit hall and their enthusiasm, the prospect vendors were a happy lot.
“There are crowds of people viewing the prospects,” said Dan Smith, vice president of exploration at Sandalwood Oil & Gas. “At times, we had crowds several-people deep at our booth; it got really hectic.”
Sandalwood was showing three prospects in South Louisiana. But they’re deep and pricey -- not the kind of deal where the viewer pulls out the checkbook on the spot.
“They want to do due diligence,” Smith noted, “come by the office and get on the workstation.”
Typical of these times when the once-unconventional plays are becoming conventional, there were a number of shale prospects on view.
In fact, some viewers considered the best prospects to be in the unconventional category. But comments abounded that the best of them were not for sale.
“There are a lot of hot plays that are not being shown,” said Chip Clark, landman at Hunt Oil Co., which was showing Gulf of Mexico opportunities. “But the networking can’t be beat.”
Kirk Clem, a geologist at Swift Energy, concurred: “You meet and see people you don’t see in any other setting,” he said.
It’s become commonplace to find new companies in the midst of the prospect exhibitors, and this year was no exception.
“I saw a lot of people who have formed companies amongst themselves who used to work together,” Wind said. “They’ve picked up acreage, either domestic or foreign, and that’s fun to see.”
Rose and Fritz’s enthusiasm was matched at AAPL.
“Based on what I heard, a lot of business got done, a lot of things got placed and a lot of contacts were made,” said Robin Forte, executive vice president of AAPL. “People were raving about success either buying deals, finding deals, selling deals.
“I attended a lunch later where some oil people commented they have money and investors and they’re looking for oil deals,” Forte said. “They said NAPE is what feeds their business.”
Look for a big follow-up act.
Forte said 200 booths were registered at the February event. He noted also that 200 booths already have been sold for the upcoming Summer NAPE in Houston, which debuted last year.