№ 5 (May 2007)
Russian Companies Make their Mark at Houston's OTC
Pat Davis Szymczak
Welcome to the May issue of Oil&Gas Eurasia. We're just back from the Offshore Technology conference in Houston. There we exhibited together with several other Russia-based companies. And as usual with Russia (be it history, politics or business) we found ourselves surrounded by paradox.
On the one hand, not a single technical paper was presented during the conference on a Russia topic. Write me please if I missed something. I say there was nothing, because I found nothing in the program when I read it prior to planning my week. If I'm wrong, write me at [email protected] and tell me otherwise - it will make a good story.
A Sakhalin presentation, previously scheduled, disappeared from the program; perhaps a casualty of Shell's negotiation with Gazprom, but I really don't know. And so here comes one of those paradoxes I spoke of - because the oil and gas industry is so busy these days with work close to home, big headlines in the news media about big projects involving big companies create inaccurate perceptions. And these inaccurate perceptions cause smaller service and supply companies to avoid the Russian market.
Guys, you're losing money! Sure, it's true that US and European service and supply companies need to work in Russia through Russian companies. But what's wrong with that? Why not get to know Gazprom, Rosneft, LUKoil - even Surgutneftgaz which keeps a low profile in terms of international name recognition, but has been buying a lot of western services and equipment. It's a matter of building relationships.
If you were at OTC this year and you didn't visit Gazprom's stand, you missed one big opportunity to meet the man who actually decides what drilling equipment the world's largest natural gas production company is going to purchase. Yes, Gazprom decision makers in procurement were in Houston to specifically talk at the OTC to western equipment manufacturers and to negotiate contracts to buy western equipment.
In the official programming, when Russia did come up, it seemed to take everyone by surprise. For example, the UK's Expro Group gave a luncheon presentation on trends in well testing services and though it wasnot advertised in advance, the principal case study cited involved the Barent's shelf and the Shtokman field. No one interested in Russia would have attended the presentation unless they already knew that Expro Group had been involved in Shtokman. I attended, hoping to talk to the speaker, because I was desperate to find a Russian angle on the OTC. The engineers sitting on either side of me at the luncheon table expressed surprise at the Russian example given in the presentation.
But Oil&Gas Eurasia also took matters into our own hands. For our part, we helped to organize a news conference for Aquatic Co. and KUMZ (Kamen Uralsky Metallurgical Words) to help raise awareness for Russian aluminum tubulars - drilling pipe and risers used in the deepwater offshore. We focused attention particularly on Aquatic Co. which finishes the products and sells to the end user. The effort resulted in positive news coverage in leading US energy media such as US Oil&Gas Reporter, Upstream and even Brazil Energia, the leading oil and gas magazine in Portugese language in Brazil where Aquatic is looking into projects offshore with Brazil's national oil company Petrobras.
And are Russians active in the US Gulf of Mexico? You bet they are. The week after OTC in fact Aquatic's Houston representative traveled offshore in the Gulf of Mexico to a platform where Aquatic pipes will be installed. So guys, while your wondering whether or not, "The Russians are Coming", look behind the headlines written by uninformed editors. The truth is, "The Russians are here! And not dealing with them means lost opportunity for you and your business!