Schlumberger Exits Major U.S. Oil Conference on Virus Spread
(Bloomberg) -- Schlumberger is pulling out of an appearance at one of the biggest U.S. oil-industry conferences due to rising Covid-19 cases in the Houston area.
The annual Offshore Technology Conference, which is scheduled to start Sunday, draws visitors from around the world to Houston and is one of the largest oil confabs to resume in-person attendance since the global pandemic began last year. About 18% of hospital beds in the county that includes Houston were dedicated to coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, up from 14% on Aug. 5, Texas state health data show.
“As local hospitalization rates increase rapidly, Schlumberger has taken the decision to withdraw from the OTC 2021 event,” the world’s biggest oilfield services provider said Friday in a statement. “We would like to thank our partners at Texas Medical Center for their collaboration in guiding our understanding of the local COVID-19 situation which prompted us to make this difficult decision.”
A Schlumberger executive was scheduled to speak on a panel Monday about how the deepwater offshore industry can compete with low-cost shale fields. Asked whether Schlumberger would participate remotely, spokesman Scott LaBelle said the company is working on “alternative plans” and will provide more details soon. A representative for the conference said its virtual program allows Schlumberger to continue to host a booth and participate in the technical sessions.
The conference, which started in 1969, was first delayed and then ultimately canceled last year in April because of the virus. It’s offering both in-person and online attendance this year, conference organizers said Aug. 10 in an email.
“From the outset of the announcement of this year’s conference, the OTC team has been coordinating and planning for a hybrid event giving both our exhibitors and attendees the opportunity to participate both virtually and in-person,” a representative for the conference said Friday in an emailed statement.
A representative for Chevron Corp. said Friday in an email that the oil giant was “monitoring the situation” with OTC and referred any additional questions to conference organizers. The oil major is postponing the full return of employees to its headquarters in San Ramon, California, and its largest office in Houston due to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 delta variant.
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