Last week, the North American Prospect Expo (NAPE) Summit held its first in-person event since the start of the pandemic. It was great to be back at the George R. Brown Convention Center to have a chance to see what’s new in the industry and catch up with old colleagues. Unfortunately, though, the latest surge in COVID cases seemed to put a damper on attendance, so take these observations with a big grain of salt.
Here are some of the key things I saw:
  1. Attendance Was Less Than I Expected — Although this was “summer” NAPE (apparently some people think it’s hot here in the summer), and COVID cases are marching upwards again, I expected there would be a pent up desire for people to get out of their offices to attend one of the industry’s premier events. I think I underestimated the level of concern around the latest pandemic surge, however. Attendance was light, and there were several unmanned booths, some of which had already been set up. I think some participants decided to wait until the last minute to see if they were comfortable being in a large crowd at this time. (sidenote: the Offshore Technology Conference was also last week and they declined to release attendance figures since the pandemic made a comparison to prior events invalid.)
  2. Fewer Unconventional Deals — Each time I go to NAPE, I start at one end of the show and walk up and down each aisle to the other end. Sometimes it takes most of the day (it took me two hours this time), but it gives me a chance to see what the industry is up to and a glimpse of where it’s heading. This year, I noticed far fewer unconventional deals on offer. A few years ago, that was almost all you saw.
  3. Minerals Companies Not Quite So Prominent — The minerals buyers that attended continued to have an unconventional play focus, but it seemed to me there were fewer than I’ve seen at the recent NAPE conferences. I’d chalk this up to the low attendance, however, because I think the space is still robust.
  4. Conventional Deals Are Still Out There— With fewer unconventional deals and minerals companies, the conventional deals seemed more prominent. I saw a number of Gulf Coast (Vicksburg, Frio, Wilcox) opportunities, some international deals, and prospects in south Louisiana, Wind River, Alabama Smackover, Kansas, and Nebraska, to name a few. As expected, most were supported by 3D seismic. A lot of the deals were targeting low-cost, shallow plays.
  5. Renewables Attracted Attention — There was a special area set aside for renewables companies and there seemed to be a lot of activity there. There was a series of ongoing live presentations about different aspects of the renewables industry and there always seemed to be an interested crowd.

READ MORE: 2021 NAPE Summit: Top 10 Energy Industry Trends