APPEX Again Generates a Buzz

'New Kid' Continues to Grow

With the catchy theme "Live Long and Prospect," APPEX 2003 was destined to be a hit -- and that, according to a host of participants, is exactly what it was.

Nearly 2,000 attendees, anxious to seek or sell in a time when tomorrow's potential seems to be the buzzword of the day, participated in the third annual AAPG Prospect and Property Expo, held in mid-September at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Sponsored by AAPG, along with co-conveners SIPES, HGS and PLS, the annual prospect expo kicked off with a bang, featuring a whole new kind of day-long forum from past years tagged "Perspectives on the Upstream Business of Oil and Gas."

It was the in place to be if you wanted to hear in-the-know energy analysts discussing key trends and issues in E&P in promising regions worldwide -- and also get the skinny on how some of your peers are capitalizing on the opportunities in these hot regions. The forum, sponsored by IHS Energy, drew a crowd of close to 200 attendees.

Considering the global approach taken in the forum, the "Power Lunch" presentation that same day was particularly apropos. Speaker Charles Davidson, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Noble Energy, discussed some of the big strides this independent has made, particularly in the international arena.

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With the catchy theme "Live Long and Prospect," APPEX 2003 was destined to be a hit -- and that, according to a host of participants, is exactly what it was.

Nearly 2,000 attendees, anxious to seek or sell in a time when tomorrow's potential seems to be the buzzword of the day, participated in the third annual AAPG Prospect and Property Expo, held in mid-September at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Sponsored by AAPG, along with co-conveners SIPES, HGS and PLS, the annual prospect expo kicked off with a bang, featuring a whole new kind of day-long forum from past years tagged "Perspectives on the Upstream Business of Oil and Gas."

It was the in place to be if you wanted to hear in-the-know energy analysts discussing key trends and issues in E&P in promising regions worldwide -- and also get the skinny on how some of your peers are capitalizing on the opportunities in these hot regions. The forum, sponsored by IHS Energy, drew a crowd of close to 200 attendees.

Considering the global approach taken in the forum, the "Power Lunch" presentation that same day was particularly apropos. Speaker Charles Davidson, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Noble Energy, discussed some of the big strides this independent has made, particularly in the international arena.

"The forum was the best turnout we've had for the pre-expo program in the three years of APPEX," said meeting co-chair Deborah Sacrey. "IHS did a phenomenal job of putting it together, using their own people and underwriting the cost for the forum and the reception and the fantastic books that were included."

The expo itself got under way the following day. Close to 2,000 attendees and 300 booths made the numbers comparable to last year's event.

Plenty of creativity to attract viewers was in evidence, some of it more far-out than the rest.

For instance, there was the gent cruising the aisles with signs front and back, sandwich-board-style with the not-so-subtle message: "Want a Mississippi prospect? Talk to me."

In-your-face marketing antics were the exception and not the rule, however, with some serious business being the order of the day for the most part.

"There are a lot of small companies outside Houston that have stopped in the booth today, who are seriously walking around," said exhibitor Karl Kaufmann, president of Valioso Petroleum, "They have money they want to spend this year, and we're getting attention because we're ready to drill in the Smackover.

"We've had a booth every year at APPEX," he continued, "and we've sold prospects in the past."

His colleague, Larry Baria, president of JURA-SEARCH, who was also an exhibitor, was equally enthusiastic.

"We're really pleased, "Baria said. "We've seen more genuine interest than at the last APPEX and the last two NAPEs. The industry is catching on that they're going to have to buy prospects to keep going."

Ever the optimist, veteran geologist and expo exhibitor, Frank Harrison, president of Optimistic Oil Co., provided a compelling reason to scoop up all the prospects possible.

"I woke up one morning a month ago and got to thinking just one BCF of gas is worth $5 million gross revenue," Harrison said. "That should stimulate the most active exploration ever seen in the Gulf Coast."

Still, like so many in the industry, he finds the dearth of new drilling activity puzzling, suggesting the shock of possibly sustainable $5 gas prices hasn't really settled in.

With a mere three years of exposure to its credit, APPEX is still the new kid on the prospect expo block. It's growing in disciplined stages, offering compelling reasons for oil and gas companies to look on it as a must-do event.

"The first three years, we built our base, "said Rick Fritz, AAPG executive director, "and we've become recognized as a regular show. We plan to push to add an international segment next year, and that's one of the ways we'll grow."

Fritz said the goal is to keep the prospect vendor ratio at roughly 65 percent prospects and 35 percent vendors. He noted the ratio has been as high as 80/20.

Besides the increased international emphasis planned for next year, there's also a technical poster session under consideration. The highly successful upstream forum has been designated a permanent fixture, which is anticipated to draw even larger audiences in the future once the word spreads about the quality of the information it provides.

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