July 2017, Vol. 244, No. 7


POC Focuses on Industry Challenges, Opportunities Ahead

If the attendance and tone of the speakers at the 13th annual Pipeline Opportunities Conference, held March 21, are any indication of what awaits the energy business, things are continuing to look up.

Almost 400 participants filled the Omni Houston Hotel in the city’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 in the wake of the national election.

“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 P&GJ Editor and conference founder Jeff Share.

The theme of the event, “More Opportunities; More Challenges,” held special significance given the position the oil and gas pipeline industry found itself in during the first quarter of 2017. Through presentations and discussions, relevant issues such as the post-election outlook, what lies ahead in the hot-producing Marcellus and Permian regions, and how to counter the growing, well-organized opposition to carbon energy infrastructure.

The impressive lineup of speakers included executives from Enbridge, Kinder Morgan, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), the Association of Oil Pipelines (AOPL), Navigant Consulting, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., TransCanada, EnLink Midstream and Willbros who examined industry issues from various perspectives, including construction, operations, maintenance and inspection. Participant included pipeline operators, construction contractors, as well as key product, equipment and service providers.

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

Kicking off the morning session for the fourth year in a row was a panel from the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, featuring longtime energy experts, Institute Director Bruce Bullock and Associate Director Bud Weinstein. They were joined by Gary Evans, chairman and CEO of E&P company Magnum Hunter Energy Resources, and Associate Professor Joe Dancy.

A much-anticipated presentation by Jesus Soto Jr, senior vice president of PG&E, held the audience’s attention as he chronicled his company’s quest to far exceed safety and transparency requirement nearly seven years after the San Bruno, CA tragedy. He challenged the rest of the industry to do likewise.

Keynote speaker Tom Hutchins, the INGAA Foundation chair, discussed the domestic and international challenges facing energy markets. As vice president of Environment, Health and Safety for Kinder Morgan, he was well-positioned to offer strategies for getting out in front of potential regulatory and permitting problems, as well as addressing organized opposition to fossil fuels.

In an especially timely presentation to kick off the afternoon session, Don Santa, president and CEO of INGAA, and Andy Black, president and CEO of AOPL, took turns at the podium to discuss the future of pipelines in the age of Trump and beyond.

Next up, Terri Larson, director of Community Engagement at Enbridge, led a panel discussion on “Confronting the Opposition,” which centered on engaging communities at the earliest possible stage of projects. The discussion featured Terry Wade, senior vice president of Corporate and Energy at Edelman; and Susan Waller, vice president of Stakeholder Outreach at Spectra Energy, now part of Enbridge.

Closing out the day, opportunities for construction companies were examined by Jared Larew, vice president of Engineering at EnLink; Jason Hamil, director of U.S. Pipeline Projects at TransCanada; and Courtney McShane, director of Business Development at Willbros.

Next year’s Pipeline Opportunities Conference, P&GJ’s 14th such event, will be held April 3, once again at the Omni Houston Hotel.


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