Perth readies for industry’s largest event

AUSTRALIA’s largest oil and gas exhibition is tipped to be even bigger this year, with more than 15,000 exhibitors, delegates and visitors expected to converge on the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre from February 20.
The Australasian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference (AOG) has been running for about 30 years, with current organiser Diversified Exhibitions taking over from the event’s previous organiser after the 2007 event.
Exhibition director Bill Hare said that since Diversified acquired the expo the company had put in place significant changes, developing what is now considered “one of the most vibrant oil and gas shows in the world”.
This year, AOG will feature more than 480 exhibitors from 16 countries, and will cover all aspects of the oil and gas sector: from exploration and production to
subsea and offshore technology, pipelines, engineering, design and construction.
The 2013 expo, which will run from February 20 to 22, is expected to be a step up from the 2012 show, which hosted about 450 exhibitors and attracted 11,000 attendees.
“We think we’ll have well in excess of 15,000 or probably 16,000 attendees to the show: be they delegates, exhibiting personnel or visitors,” Mr Hare said.
“It’s not quite the same size as the Houston or Aberdeen or Stavanger [oil and gas exhibitions], but it is certainly regarded as one of the most important oil and gas shows in the world, and clearly Australia is one of the most important oil and gas provinces in the world.”
The exhibition
This year’s exhibition will see the return of networking areas (the Subsea, Matrix Oyster and DB Schenker Bratwurst bars), and the show floor will be divided into five exhibition zones.
The subsea zone will be a major feature, with participants presenting a full range of products and services such as umbilicals and flowlines, offshore support, well
intervention and diving services. Other zones will include drilling and downhole technology; health, safety and environment; and education, research and
training.
International group pavilions from the UK, China, Italy, Norway, Holland and the US will also be represented in the 480-strong exhibitor list. Mr Hare said the number of international exhibitors continued to grow as companies from across the world looked to do business in Australia.
“There’s huge international participation in the show [and] there are lots of opportunities for Australian companies to partner with some of these international
exhibitors,” he said.
“They’re coming here looking at the market – looking where their product or service might fit [and] how it might increase Australia’s capabilities – so [it’s a] great opportunity for Australian companies to come and talk with them, and potentially partner with them.”
Innovation is another key aspect of the exhibition, and a number of new technologies and products will be available for viewing on the show floor.
The conference
Topic streams for the 2013 conference, which will run from February 20 to 21, will include Australian industry participation, sourcing and retaining skills in a competitive market, marine logistics, and safety.
According to Mr Hare, these and other issues will be addressed by a number of high-profile speakers who have extensive experience in, and knowledge of, the local and global oil and gas industries.
“For me, probably the most exciting part of AOG and perhaps the biggest difference [for this year] is in some new streams of the conference which I think are really relevant to the industry, especially in WA,” he said.
“One of those is Australian industry participation, and that’s been a huge issue, and we have a fabulous program there headed by [state] minister for Commerce
Simon O’Brien.
“We think this will be a really well-subscribed conference, with speakers like Colin Beckett from Chevron [and] Alistair McGregor (supply chain manager for Apache), and we’ve also got Robert Edwardes, who is executive vice president development of Woodside Energy, so some really key players [will be] talking in that session.”
The session on Thursday, February 21 will highlight the experience of Norwegian oil and gas companies, both at home and on the global stage.
The full-day session will focus on topics such as critical valve diagnostics experience in the North Sea, ensuring efficient operation by the power of dynamic
simulation, offshore oil and gas training, and the continuous and reliable operation of fire and gas detection systems.
Mr Hare said Norway’s technological expertise made it an important contributor to the international oil and gas sector. “That is a country that punches way
above its weight: a country of 4 million people I think but they are one of the key technology countries in the world for oil andgas,” he said.
“Their oil and gas industry trade association, called INTSOK, approached us and said they’d like to be involved in our conference program and we welcomed them on board, so INTSOK have pulled together two sessions.
Mr Hare said the main focus of the full-day talk would be ‘continuing reliable production’: an important topic not just for Norwegian companies, but for anyone
working in oil and gas.
“One of the key challenges for any oil and gas company is keeping their wells producing,” he said.
“Every time they stop it costs them plenty, so there are some really interesting presentations there.”
Subsea conference
The Subsea Australasia Conference will run in conjunction with the 2013 AOG Conference and will cover issues specifically relevant to the growing subsea industry.
Topics will include flow assurance, drilling and well management, global demand for subsea talent, and marine sediment transport and practical solutions, covered by a number of industry professionals. Mr Hare said the Subsea Conference committee — which is a joint venture between the Society for Underwater
Technology — Subsea UK and Subsea
Energy Australia, had selected key topics and challenges specific to the industry in Australia.
“For instance, one of the very unique aspects of subsea work in offshore WA is the marine sediments,” he said.
“We import so much of our expertise, which is thankfully growing a fair bit now in Australia, but so many of the subsea engineers, for instance, are coming from the UK or from Norway.
“Now they are pretty smart people and they’ve got a lot of experience in the North Sea, but one thing they’re not experienced at is our topography [and] these unique marine sediments in north WA.
“That affects all the installations they put out subsea – all the pipelines [and] things like that – so that’s one of those sessions we have.”
The ever-present skill shortage is another issue that the committee deemed important, and Mr Hare said it would also be covered.
“We are also addressing things like the global demand for subsea talent as the resourcing issues are huge in most of these high-skilled areas and subsea is one of those key ones,” he said.
“Subsea as an industry worldwide is growing exponentially; so much more is being done on the sea floor yet the training of subsea engineers hasn’t kept pace with the industry, so that’s an issue that will be addressed.”
Graduate opportunities
With the skills shortage an issue for a number of oil and gas companies in Australia, the AOG Graduate Careers Day is a way to foster interest in the local industry and allow employers to gauge the level of domestic talent available for future projects. Mr Hare said the long-term solution was to provide opportunities for Australian graduates.
“Clearly, the oil and gas industry [has a] skills shortage, and there is one really good solution to it, but it’s a long-term one… you’ve got to offer them graduate positions and train them from the ground up,” he said.
“We recognise that at AOG, and we also recognise particularly that university students today will become our visitors of tomorrow; they’ll become the decision
makers.”
In 2012, 600 tertiary students attended the AOG Graduate Careers Day and met face to face with representatives from 12 companies.
Mr Hare said there would be up to 15 companies involved in 2013, including Woodside, Saipem, Technip, Subsea 7 and Wood Group Kenny.
“They’ll all have stands at the event so the students can have face-to-face interaction with their graduate careers people, and also some of the young graduates actually working at the organisation, because there is nothing like talking to someone who is from your generation and going through exactly what you intend to go through,” he said.
Each company will also deliver a 10-minute presentation outlining its practices and values, and what graduates may expect should they be offered a position.
To encourage graduates to visit theexhibition, Diversified will give away movie tickets to the first 300 students who arrive, as well as a number of door prizes
throughout the day.
The future of the show
For this year’s event, Diversified was able to find space for another 20 to 30 exhibitors by moving the event’s registration area to level two.
Mr Hare said that with size restraints due to the nature of the venue, any major future expansions had been ruled out. “We don’t want to take a lot of risks with
expansions. We think there is more room to expand into [the] level two area and we’ll do that when we think we’ve got some good plans that’ll work.”
However, this has not halted plans for an Australian-focussed zone in the near future to help raise the profile of Australian companies and highlight their capabilities to a global audience.
“We’ve got some plans for a new zone for next year as well, sort of a local industry or Australian capability area, and we are speaking with federal and state governments to work on that zone,” Mr Hare said.
“We think having a zone really featuring Australian capability [could help] Australian companies – for instance, the Department of Innovation,  Department of  Commerce, ICN [Industry

Capability Network] and  Enterprise Connect – [by] getting those organisations together to provide a bit of a help desk for Australian industry.”

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