BY ELIZABETH FABRI
IN 2018, the Australasian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference (AOG) returns to Perth with a renewed focus, as market conditions improve and the recent wave of LNG projects edge closer to production.
Australia’s oil and gas industry is set for steady growth over the next 12 months, according to the Chief Economist Mark Cully’s latest Resources and Energy Quarterly report.
“2018 marks the end of the remarkable resources and energy investment boom of the past decade,” Mr Cully said.
“The three remaining large LNG projects – Wheatstone, Ichthys and Prelude – are expected to complete construction.
“Beyond that, a slight uptick in projects that have been publicly announced or under feasibility points to a bottoming in the investment cycle.”
With the end of the construction boom looming rising export earnings were imminent, with income forecast to reach a record $214 billion in 2017-18, driven largely by growing LNG and iron ore production.
Looking closer, LNG export earnings were forecast to increase from $22 billion in 2016–17 to $36 billion in 2018–19, while LNG export volumes were expected to reach 77 million tonnes (mt) in 2018–19, up from 52mt in 2016–17.
The outlook for crude oil and condensate export earnings was optimistic too, with an increase from $5.5 billion in 2016–17 to $6 billion in 2017–18 as an outcome of higher oil prices, with further increases through 2018-19.
On the backdrop of this changing energy landscape, AOG 2018 running from 14-16 March at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, comes at an opportune time for the industry.
After becoming a free-to-attend event for the first time last year, AOG will again feature a series of free industry forums staged on the exhibition floor over the three days covering the topics of Collaboration, Subsea, and Knowledge.
AOG event director Bill Hare said just like the oil and gas industry, 2018 was set to be a positive year for the conference.
“The industry has undergone a massive tightening over the last few years that’s effected pretty much every player in the game,” Mr Hare said.
“Companies have tightened their belts; they’ve reduced their marketing budgets, there has been big redundancies, mergers and acquisitions; a lot of disruptions happening in the industry and this has been reflected in AOG, absolutely.
“It’s a shrinking marketplace and unfortunately AOG has also reduced in size over that journey along with the rest of the industry.”
This year was shaping up to be better though with more exhibitors that 2017, and a total attendance of between 8500 and 9000 people was expected.
There would also be an increased focus throughout the conference on the operational phase of projects.
“The construction era is essentially over, and we’re certainly hopeful there will be some big greenfields projects approved over the next few years, but really Australia has grown to become such an enormous producer, particularly LNG, so now it’s all about the opportunities for the service and supply industry,” Mr Hare said.
“AOG wants to reflect that, our exhibitors are the supply chain and we want to make sure that we are helping them understand the opportunities that are available at the moment.”
One of the key events on the agenda included a greenfields session on emerging projects and how to operate them efficiently and reliably.
There would also be a focus on clean energy throughout discussions, with companies such as Woodside leading the way through its battery storage test project on one of its platforms.
Decommissioning was also in the mix, and while a long way off for many companies, it was still a hot topic among attendees.
“Decommissioning is really on the far side of the industry but it’s also becoming more interesting to industry; it’s inevitable,” Mr Hare said.
“The talk of life extension is probably more prevalent than decommissioning at the moment but there is debate on decommissioning; for example do we have the right legislation, and do we really understand what it means here.”
“Workforce of the future is also a key element of the conference sessions.”
There will also be a host of new technologies on show, and while the exhibitor content was still yet to be finalised, Mr Hare could confirm Oceaneering was bringing in a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) simulator.
“People will be able to sit in and drive it, so essentially they are driving an ROV on the ocean floor,” he said.
Mr Hare said the conference was fortunate to receive strong support from the Government and industry groups from around the globe.
Its principal sponsors included Woodside Energy, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), the City of Perth and the WA Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
“Woodside have been very supportive the last couple of years and keep increasing that level of support for AOG,” he said.
“Part of that reason is they really like that it is an inclusive event and free to attend and staged in Perth their hometown.
“In addition to that principal sponsorship, they are also sponsoring our diversity and inclusion breakfast with their chief operating officer Mike Utsler as MC.
“They are also a key part of our collaboration forum committee and are curating the session on brownfields, and curating the workforce of the future panel with Shell.
“We’ve also got speakers in our subsea forum from Woodside and they are also for the first time in a number of years taking a stand at the show, which is a really great sign of support.”
NERA was also launching a new Technology and Skills Hub that will be a platform for 40 innovative businesses to demonstrate and exhibit technologies in the fields of data and digitisation, automation and robotics, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“We’ve got an extra half a pavilion for the show and that will be where the NERA Technology and Skills Hub will be staged,” Mr Hare said.
“Each day we will have a different showcase of companies who have got something really smart and cutting-edge. A lot of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups will be engaged with that.
“You will be able to talk to these people and get hands on with whatever kit they might have with them.”
In addition, NERA will be running an SME connector event, to work one-on-one with registered companies to help them prepare a pitch they will then be able to make during a sit down discussion with a group of operators and contractors.
“I think this is a really nice addition to the show,” Mr Hare said.
“It’s what AOG really attempts to do, to get the buyers and sellers together, and get the operators and contractors to talk to the service and suppliers.”
To register for AOG, visit www.aogexpo.com.au