Last month at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, NAPE 2023 celebrated 30 years of bringing together projects and opportunities from around the world. The show preserved its core format — aisle after aisle of booths with maps, seismic surveys and droves of homogenous businessmen seeking the next deal.
Over the last several years, NAPE has endured considerable headwinds, with the combination of depressed attendance due to the pandemic, a harsh spotlight focused by the ESG community on the perception of the oil and gas sector, and a strict directive from the capital markets to deliver fiscal returns to investors after years of failing to reward stakeholders.
“Capital discipline! Produce green energy! Lower my consumer cost for energy!” And please, respect my personal space.
The 2023 show featured an energy and vibrancy that was tangible. And why not? Commodity prices have enjoyed a two-year stretch, thanks to capital discipline, that has provided an opportunity for companies to generate profits. Those profits were used to repay debt, fund new projects, distribute cash to investors and compensate management. Cash has an amazing ability to transform cloudy skies into rainbows.
The NAPE resurgence wasn’t only fueled by the abundance of cash in the crowd. Fresh thoughts and fresh faces made their presence known inside and outside the walls of NAPE. There was a myriad of sleek new booths promoting technology and professional services catered to the modern oil and gas executive seeking best in class solutions. (Did you visit the PetroLedger booth?) And there were exponentially more students on the floor this year. It was exciting to see that the oil and gas industry is regaining much needed interest as a potential career.
With “deals” still the endgame, the GRB floor isn’t the only place to pitch potential business. The downtown Houston restaurant and bar scene was awash with engineers, geologists, bankers, lawyers, accountants and investors working on the most crucial ingredient in the modern day energy sector — solid relationships. NAPE attendees bonded over many a steak and cocktail over the course of the week. More than ever, deals are driven by a desire to work with counterparties you trust and enjoy working with.
NAPE is no longer just an oversized convention floor to pitch projects, but a coming together of minds, ideas and relationships that will carry this industry forward for a long time.