Review by Tracey Dancy, Dancy Dynamics
2013’s Prospects Fair was always going to be hard to beat, and with a falling oil price, you would expect an impact on shows such as Prospect Fair. However, Islington’s Business Design Centre once again played host to a flourishing event, with increased floor space taken by exhibitors, and only a slight decrease in delegates of 947, only to be expected in a PETEX year. A total of 92 exhibitors took 953 sqm of floor space, expanding into the balcony area having completely filled the mezzanine and the village green.
DECC and the PESGB hosted and organised the event, as in previous years, and this one is the last event organised by Graham Harman, who has steered both PROSPEX and PETEX from their inception. The PESGB are very grateful for all that he has done to support and organise PROSPEX, which has become a key event for those involved in UKCS exploration – we hope that it will continue to be a highlight of the E&P calendar.
As always the run up to Christmas seems to play a part – exhibitors find increasingly inventive ways to attract delegates with giveaways from USB boats, yoyos and stress toys, to festive raffles for reindeer (and the cushion!) and good bottles of Scotch. The beautifully domed roof reflects the dwindling daylight during the afternoon as thoughts turn to Christmas spirit in the shape of late afternoon – and sometimes not so late! – refreshments, as the preamble to moving to the restaurants and bars that are in abundance in Islington High Street.
The Opening Sessions of day one focused on the UK , with the welcoming address being given by Simon Toole of DECC, followed by Chris Bulley of Hannon Westwood, who looked at “The UKCS: its remaining potential and can we afford it?” – particularly pertinent in view of the dropping oil price. Nick Fretwell of Total brought us an update on the Exploration Task Force and the Exploration Road Map, and following a short break, Keith Myers finished the keynotes with a look at UK exploration in a global context. The rest of day one brought us UK “prospects to go”, with a focus mainly on offshore assets.
Keynotes on day two focused on the UK onshore, appropriate given the emphasis on onshore exploration in 2014. Toni Harvey of DECC presented the results of the DECC commissioned BGS studies on Shale Prospectivity, while Ken Cronin of UKOOG looked at the potential impact of shale gas on the UK’s energy economy and environment. Hugh Mackay of Europa Oil and Miles Newman of Reach Coal Seam Gas Ltd presented case studies on “Surrey and Lincolnshire: a tale of two wells” and the prospectivity of the West Lothian oil shale formation respectively. Onshore “prospects to go” gave us a global view, with prospects from UKCS, France and Senegal.
Europe in a global context was the focus for the final sessions. Michael Hanrahan of DCENR told us about the 2015 Irish Atlantic Licensing Round, and Harmen Mijnlieff of TNO focused on opportunities and activities in the Netherlands. Ian Cross of Moyes presented a review of global opportunities, while Mike Lakin looked at new venture opportunities from Africa to the Arctic via the UK.
The exhibition hall was as busy as the auditorium, with many delegates attending purely for the opportunity to network and look closely at the prospector booths and the potential opportunities. PROSPEX is the perfect forum for operators to meet together in an informal setting, enabled as much by the service companies’ sponsorship and attendance as the prospectors themselves. Deal-making may be the main priority, but the opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues counts high on the main reasons for delegates to attend. Whatever the reason for attending, the event was characterised by a constant buzz of activity, with many comments on how it always seems to attract the right people for both operators and service companies to meet with.
From a social point of view, PROSPEX is a key event, particularly given its December date. The Cocktail Party on day one is eagerly anticipated, and of course the President’s Evening on day two – this time held at a favourite location, the Transport Museum in Covent Garden – is the perfect way to celebrate with colleagues and friends. Coming as it does at the end of an onshore licensing round, and against a backdrop of a less stable oil price, PROSPEX 2014 is a vital element in the exploration year and is the opportunity to reinforce the “glue” that holds the industry together in less certain times. The relationships we build and maintain through networking opportunities such as PROSPEX are essential to the ongoing energy provision for the UK and globally, and the privilege of doing that at such a flourishing and warm event is something I personally wouldn’t miss for the world. Well done to the PESGB, DECC, and particularly to Graham Harman. May there be many more!
The PESGB would like to thank their sponsors: AziNor Petroleum, DECC, Hannon Westwood, MMbbls, North Sea Reporter, Oyster Petroleum, Polarcus, Providence, Schlumberger and TGS for their contributions to such a successful event.