It’s October of 2016, which means the latest Permian Basin International Oil Show is upon us. This year’s event promises to stand as tall as ever as the Permian Basin leads the industry out of its protracted downturn.
by Tony Burke
It has been two years since the last Permian Basin International Oil Show, and the industry has spent much of that interim in the dregs of an ugly downturn that saw barrel prices dip into the $20 dollar range. If the past few months have been any indication of what is to come, then the worst is now only a distant memory.
Every other year, the PBIOS kicks into gear, and the 2016 edition is set to occupy Odessa from October 18-20, featuring well over 700 exhibitors, and hosting tens of thousands of attendees.
“The show space is sold out. All the space is sold,” said PBIOS Executive Director Anthony Fry. “We’ve had some turnover; some people have downsized or pulled out completely, but we had a very lengthy waiting list.”
Perhaps defying expectations, the show is expected to boast even more exhibitors than it did two years ago. Fry estimates that 735 unique exhibitors will be setting up shop at the PBIOS this month. With some companies expanding their footprint and using more display space than in the past, and the rest of the openings being quickly seized by those on the years-long waiting list, the PBIOS appears to be skipping none of the beats that have plagued the industry in the past one-to-two years.
With barrel prices creeping back up toward respectability, the Basin feels poised to bounce back up to full capacity. With the operation hibernation nearly over, this may actually be the best possible timing for a PBIOS show.
“Everybody’s optimistic about the way they feel the industry’s going to go from here,” said Fry. “We think we’ve seen the bottom. We feel like 2017 is going to be better than 2016. The exhibitors are trying to position themselves to be leaders in the industry.”
“[It’s] very encouraging. I was afraid we might not sell it out with the cancellations. Each time I went into the office, every week we had 4-or-5 more spaces sold, and slowly but surely we got ’em sold,” said Sparkman, noting his concerns from earlier in the PBIOS cycle. “We didn’t really have to change anything, we just went back to our waiting list.”
“The last few weeks, oil prices have rebounded, [and] any time the price starts going up, everyone gets a better feeling,” added Sparkman. “People say if we get to [$]50 and above, we are going to start working more. Any time you get up around 50, that’s where people start to get excited.”
This year’s PBIOS will feature many new faces, but excitement for this event had clearly been there all along, as far as the exhibitors were concerned.
Clint Walker, general manager of Cudd Energy services and chairman-elect of the PBPA, agreed that the show is arriving at an opportune time to boost enthusiasm around the industry just as prices appear to be trending substantially upward.
“Cudd Energy Services is thrilled to be exhibiting at this year’s PBIOS show,” Walker wrote to PBOG.
“Cudd has been a part of the show for many years,” he said. “Our business in the Permian is extremely important to our company. Cudd has been in this area for many years and will remain in the Permian. This show allows for everyone in the area to know what companies remain active and are an integral part of the industry.”
“The Permian Basin, there’s so many innovations that go on out here,” said Sparkman of the importance the Basin itself plays in the PBIOS. “There’s so many things that are manufactured here, developed here. It’s one of the most prolific oilfields in the states, so I don’t see how you could do it anywhere else.”
Appropriately, the theme of this year’s show is “Standing Tall.”
PBIOS President Monnie Sparkman, also of Liberty Fishing and Rental Tools, explained that, to him, standing tall makes him think of, “everybody keeping their chip up, and keep doing what they’ve been doing to get through the tough side of this downturn.”
Regarding the theme, Fry added, “We’ve seen a slowdown in business, but we’re standing tall. We’ve seen it before and we know that at some point, things are going to turn around.”
Indeed, the industry and the Permian Basin in particular have been cautiously looking up. Naturally, the concept of standing tall has resonated with the exhibitors as well.
“The continued expansion of the Permian Basin rig count is what resonates as ‘Standing Tall.’ We continue to strategically focus and expand our company through these tough times,” said Walker. “It is key to remain fiscally responsible and stand tall during these volatile cycles, knowing that when things turn around we will be here as a key partner to our customers, continuing to service the industry.”
Jerry Fuentes, Owner of Midland-based Veteran Fabrication, said that, to him, standing tall meant, “Just trying to pick yourself up off the floor. It kinda hits home. Yeah we’re in a downturn; how do we differentiate ourselves from everyone else out here and come up with something that, even in these times, will sell? How do we build and change an industry?”
Fuentes, also in partnership with Airworks Compressor Corp., greatly appreciates the opportunities afforded by the PBIOS to show off groundbreaking new technologies.
“This will be our third year,” he said. “Every year we try to bring something in that’s new to the industry. We try to be an industry leader.”
Fuentes’ baby for this year’s show, along with his friends at Airworks, is a leak-mitigating system designed to help companies prepare for proposed regulations, such as those from the Bureau of Land Management on venting, flaring, and leaking of natural gas from well sites. The new equipment is intended to future-proof well sites against any regulations that may come to pass, without need for any further permits.
Audibly excited about this new offering, Fuentes continued, “How we put the icing on the cake is we will set the equipment for free. And we share in the revenue of the formerly leaked gas the company is now able to sell.”
Cudd, Veteran, and Airworks are just three of the 700-plus companies looking to show off their cutting edge tech that will inevitably help many companies improve their operations.
Merely pulling off a show of this magnitude is quite an achievement.
“[We’ve] got about 200 board members and every single one of them do something during the show. It’s one of the few boards I’ve been a part of that’s had that. It would be very different if we didn’t have all those volunteers.”
Providing some perspective on what goes into an event like this, Fry added, “The number of volunteer hours is probably 4-5,000 man hours. On top of the contractors who get paid.”
“[For us, it] doesn’t start on the 18th, all those man hours start on about the 10th,” said Fry. “At 4 o’clock on the last day, it doesn’t end there either. A three-day event is about a three-week event for our board of directors.”
All that hard work is not lost on the exhibitors.
“It is like a miniature city where you can find out anything and everything,” said Fuentes. “Upstream, midstream, and downstream, everything to do with the oil and gas production process, you can find it there.”
“If you’ve wondered how a certain piece of equipment works, the subject matter experts are there. You will leaver smarter than when you came in,” said Fuentes.
Exhibitors and those interested in attending the event may keep up to date on all PBIOS news, including the announcement of this year’s industry honoree, by visiting pboilshow.org.
Tony Burke is a freelance writer and the assistant editor of PBOG. He can be reached at email@example.com.