June 2016, Vol. 71 No. 6


Pipeline Opportunities Conference Focuses On Moving Forward

If the attendance and tone of the speakers at the 12th annual Pipeline Opportunities Conference, held March 22, serves as a harbinger of what lies ahead for the energy business, things are starting to look up.

About 350 participants filled the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Houston’s Galleria District to hear a range of experts discuss not only the challenges the industry faces going forward but perhaps more importantly, what sort of future awaits us in the wake of the oil price decline.

The event, titled “Where Do We Go From Here?” was sponsored by Pipeline & Gas Journal and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), which represents North America’s pipeline transmission companies.

“We were extremely pleased by the large turnout, especially considering all the economic challenges companies in the pipeline industry faced in the months leading up to the conference,” said Pipeline & Gas Journal Editor Jeff Share.

Speakers for the conference were chosen to provide timely analyses moving forward and tackle such critical issues as the effect of the unprecedented pressures faced by midstream operators. Doug Evans, president and CEO of Gulf Interstate Engineering, served as the event’s moderator.

Kicking the morning session off for the third year was a panel from the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, featuring long-time energy experts Institute Director Bruce Bullock and Associate Director Bud Weinstein. They were joined by Gary Evans, chairman and CEO of exploration and production company Magnum Hunter Energy Resources.

Much-anticipated keynote speaker Rob Gardner, the economist who directs ExxonMobil’s annual “The Outlook for Energy”, was among the many highlights of the day. He pointed out the study’s key findings included the prediction that the global energy environment, 25 years from now, will remain largely as it is today. In other words, oil and natural gas will remain dominant.

The Outlook also projected during that period that oil and gas will combine to account for 57 percent of global energy, an increase of 1 percent from the 2014 level, and the use of natural gas through 2040 will increase a whopping 56 percent while use of oil will increase 25 percent.

Jeff Wiese, associate director for the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the agency’s point man on pipeline safety, discussed one of the bright spots for the pipeline industry going forward – the continuation of pipeline integrity mandates in the form stiffened federal and state regulations. The guidelines require utilities to spend billions of dollars to upgrade their pipeline systems. Wiese was joined on the topic of politics and regulatory impacts by Don Santa, president and CEO of INGAA and the INGAA Foundation, who discussed news and possible changes on the Washington, D.C. front.

In the first afternoon session, Nexant Consulting’s Nelly Mikhaiel addressed, among other issues, another potentially bright spot for oil and gas pipeline-related business in the coming years – Mexico’s decision to welcome foreign investors under its Energy Reform Act. She was joined on the panel by natural gas analyst Colette Breshears and senior LNG analyst Ted Michael, both of energy market data and intelligence provider Genscape.

Closing out the day, opportunities for midstream companies were examined by Katie Jolly, strategic planner at ARB Midstream; John Hayes, chief commercial officer for Boardwalk Pipeline Partners; and Curtis Cole, director of business
development for Kinder Morgan-East Region.

The 13th Annual Pipeline Opportunities Conference will take place March 21, 2017, at the Omni Houston Hotel in Houston.

Pipeline Opportunities Conference,

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