The 2015 Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exhibition opened Tuesday under an overcast sky by oil patch veterans who declared the current woes cannot last forever.
“We’re waiting on that next boom,” said Charlie Moncla Jr., who was chosen LAGCOE Looey for 2015-17. Moncla echoed the feelings of the thousands of energy sector professionals visiting the exhibits and listening to the dozens of presentations at this year’s LAGCOE, which is in its 60th year.
LAGCOE 2015 runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Cajundome and Convention Center in Lafayette, where, despite a 16-month slide in oil prices, LAGCOE this year sold slots to 444 exhibitors, compared with 413 in 2013, when economic times were better for the industry.
LAGCOE is held every two years.
The opening ceremony was held at the Energy Innovators tent, which is sponsoring the “Pitch Challenge” taking place Thursday. Innovative ideas for new products and services for the oil and gas industry are presented at the event.
LAGCOE Chairman Steve Maley, who joined Moncla in opening this year’s exhibition, has said he believes oil and gas innovations come when the industry’s on the ropes. Such breakthroughs include 3-D seismic technology developed during the last energy depression in the mid-1980s.
Exhibitors last week and through the weekend set up hundreds of exhibits both inside and outside the Cajundome and Convention Center. By Tuesday morning, sales and business development personnel were ready.
Ben Broussard, of energy industry advocate Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, said it remains important that companies continue to participate in LAGCOE, where their customers can see them.
“No matter what phase the industry’s in, relationships are everything,” Broussard said. “They’ve got to stay in touch with their customers.”
Inside the Convention Center, M&M International LLC Vice President Quay McKnight stood in the middle of the company’s new display, which was upgraded along with the company’s brand since LAGCOE 2013.
McKnight said he expected a good turnout through Thursday for the whole show and for M&M, which his dad and uncle started in 1980.
“Everyone I’ve talked to expects a real good turnout” at the show this year, he said.
McKnight said he attended the LAGCOE preview party Monday evening, “and they had more people there than in 2013.”
About 40 feet away from M&M’s floor space, Hyspan Precision Product Inc. saleswoman Arlene Chase said sales of the San Diego-based company’s ball valves to the Gulf Coast energy sector have been down.
By 9:15 a.m., she had talked to three potential customers.
“It’s early,” Chase said and also noted the LAGCOE preview party on Monday night. “People partied last night.”
One of the additions to this LAGCOE is the Energy Innovators Pitch Challenge on Thursday. There, 10 people whose oil and gas ideas already have been chosen as the best among hundreds will be vetted and voted on by LAGCOE attendees.
“It’s important to remember that our culture was built with a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit,” Jason El Koubi, CEO and president of regional economic development agency One Acadiana, said Tuesday.