The women and men putting on the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition might have created a little magic in pulling off LAGCOE 2015, an event-filled exposition this week where almost all exhibitor slots were filled despite a tough stretch for the oil patch brought on by $45 per barrel oil.
LAGCOE Executive Director Angela Cring said the economic climate led many companies that had signed up to pull out. However, a long waiting list of companies not able to exhibit in prior years stepped up as others bowed out.
“That’s pretty much how it’s been the last 10 months,” said Cring, who credited her staff of four other women and a bevy of volunteers from Acadiana’s oil and gas sector for pulling LAGCOE 2015 together.
Now in its 60th year, LAGCOE is a biennial energy exposition in Lafayette. This year’s event features oil veteran Charlie Moncla Jr. as LAGCOE Looey, who will be the exhibition’s ambassador until a new Looey is named in 2017.
LAGCOE 2015 runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Cajundome and Convention Center in Lafayette.
In addition to hundreds of exhibitor displays, each day is packed from breakfast to dinner with sessions. They include: how local companies can export products and processes, how to interview for a job and how companies can make it past the energy slump. On Wednesday, Frank’s International President and CEO Gary Luquette will give a keynote address titled “Surviving and Prospering in a Difficult Market.”
Some 448 exhibitors spent last week and the weekend setting up displays, some of them elaborate. International guests and U.S. energy officials started arriving in commercial and corporate jets. Some of those flying in will take part in sessions that start Tuesday morning and end Thursday afternoon.
Tuesday’s session agenda, for example, includes eight officials from the Ukraine oil ministry giving presentations — with the assistance of an interpreter — on opportunities for U.S. companies in that emerging energy market. Also, three energy officials from Mexico are scheduled to discuss reforms to the country’s national oil company, Pemex, and how offshore Mexico could be a profitable area for U.S. companies.
“There’s been quite a bit of political reform there, certainly with Pemex over the last couple of years,” said Jim Doré, a volunteer on LAGCOE’s international and youth development committees who spent a career in domestic and international oilfield construction.
“We witnessed it firsthand as a construction company,” said Doré, a former executive with marine construction company Global Industries Ltd. “It was one of our more profitable regions.”
This year’s LAGCOE also has added the Energy Innovators Pitch Challenge, an event cosponsored by Innov8 Acadiana and the LEDA Opportunity Machine. The pitch is a takeoff from ABC’s “Shark Tank,” where budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and inventions to well-heeled investors.
LAGCOE’s innovators challenge ideas were submitted earlier this year, and on Thursday, 10 finalists will make a final pitch in front of a panel of investors and a room full of people.
This year’s exposition will be in an environment different from the last LAGCOE in 2013, when the per-barrel price of oil was about $100. The price of U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate now hovers in the mid-$40s. The price crater has resulted in job losses numbering tens of thousands or more.
LAGCOE 2015 Chairman Steve Maley said energy sector slowdowns in the past spawned innovations that enhanced production and profits.
Maley, a reservoir engineer and operations manager for Lafayette-based Badger Oil, said the oil crash of the mid-1980s brought along game-changing innovations, including the 3-D seismic technology that greatly reduced the number of dry holes drilled.
“You’re never able to know which idea is going to be the one that is going to gain traction and revolutionize technology,” he said. “You’ve got to try a bunch of little incremental changes, outside-the-box thinking. … It’s how you respond to the downtimes that separates the next generation of successful entrepreneurs.”