The OTC experience: Off The Charts

The annual Offshore Technology Conference is must-see event in Houston. Hundreds of energy vendors and thousands of attendees from dozens of countries add up to a world-class attraction.

In fact, nearly 90,000 attended this year's OTC, third-largest since the event began in 1979 and reaffirming its stature as one of the world's largest industry trade shows.

Even that stat, however does not do justice to what's inside the Reliant Park exhibit halls.

OTC is an awesome assemblage of booths, reps, execs, job-seekers, deal-makers, and not without musical entertainment if you're within earshot. A Who's Who of energy companies, large and small, is listed in OTC's 276-page exhibit guide. The latest product lines and games had the potential to stop foot traffic in its tracks. Those companies occupying much of Reliant Park real estate -- Cameron, Siemens and Schlumberger, to name a few -- showcased their technologically savvy displays to the masses.

Here are some highlights that caught many an eye at OTC 2012:

The HARDSUIT Quantum design by OceanWorks was first introduced in 2006. The latest model on display at OTC looks like something you might see in comic books or a James Bond film, but this HARDSUIT works in real life, with industrial-strength results.

If you ventured outside, the Astrodome still stands in the distance as vendor tents went about their business and conducted product demonstrations. Is it here to stay or will it be demolished? We'll see at the next OTC.

Outside, the heat was customary but the lack of humidity made for pleasant days during the conference. Attendees going in and out of Reliant were dressed comfortably. For men, no suits required; jackets and ties recommended; slacks preferred over denim. Rubber-soled shoes were the smart choice for covering vast exhibit hall territory. Women in conservative skirts and pant suits were equally practical, wearing flats as well as heels. The OTC atmosphere is as professional as the Houston Rodeo's is casual.

OTC 2012 was my first such experience. It was exhilarating, entertaining, enlightening, and almost overwhelming. There's nothing like the energy here at OTC.

As it should be.


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