May 2018, Vo. 245, No. 5


POC Focuses on Challenges and the Path Ahead

By Pipeline & Gas Journal

If the tone of the speakers and mood of their audience at the 14th annual Pipeline Opportunities Conference (POC) were any hint of what lies ahead for the industry, business is looking up.

About 300 participants from all areas of the pipeline industry gathered in the ballroom of Houston’s Westin Galleria on April 3 to hear a wide range of experts offer perspective on the challenges and opportunities ahead for the industry and share insights on how to move forward.

“We had some exceptional speakers and a great turnout for the conference. It was nice to hear all of the positive and promising outlooks that have been forecasted for the pipeline industry,” said Pipeline & Gas Journal Editor Joe Hollier.

The theme of the event, “Exploring Challenges and Opportunities Facing Industry Leaders,” held special significance to the industry, given the regulatory quandary and opposition to construction through the first quarter of the year.

The lineup of notable speakers included executives from Energy Hunter Resources, PSE&G, Xcel Energy, Quanta Services, Continuum Advisory Group and Heath Consultants. In presentations and panel discussions, experts examined topics ranging from successful utility-contractor relations to developing a winning strategy against growing opposition to fossil fuel-related construction. Participants included pipeline operators, construction contractors and key product, equipment and service providers.

Kicking off the morning session for the fifth year in a row was a panel from Southern Methodist University’s Maguire Energy Institute, which joined the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) as co-presenters of the annual conference along with P&GJ. The Maguire panel of experts included institute Director Bruce Bullock and Associate Director Bud Weinstein, along with board member Gary Evans, chairman and CEO of Magnum Hunter Energy Resources.

“The upside potential for oil today is much better than the downside,” Evans said, in what would be a recurring theme of the panel. “I’ve never seen the fundamentals so good and the valuation [on Wall Street] still be so low.”

In a timely presentation to kick off the afternoon session, Don Santa, president and CEO of INGAA discussed the regulatory picture in Washington, D.C., one year into a new presidential administration that began without a quorum at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“As an observer for 35 years, I can say the last 18 months have been the most fascinating – and the most befuddling,” he said. “Initially, it was thought infrastructure could be bi-partisan. Now, this is somewhat murky.”

Gulf Publishing Data Division’s Josh Allen introduced the company’s Energy Web Atlas, an ESRI-based, GIS platform that allows users to integrate real-time project information, export and manipulate data, and gain competitive insights.

Keynote speaker John Davies, Charmain and CEO of Davies Public Affairs, discussed the challenges facing U.S. and Canadian companies from environmental foes. His takes on strategies and developing relationships to enhance a company’s success on projects were insightful.

Larry Selzer, president and CEO, of The Conservation Fund, discussed infrastructure mitigation techniques that can save oil and gas companies time when going through the permitting process.

The panel on building utility/contractor maintenance featured, from left, Cheryl Campbell, Daniel Kovach, Michael Kemper, Doug Reeves and Mona Haggag.

Continuum Advisory Group President Gretchen Gagel and Principal Mona Haggag co-moderated a far-reaching panel discussion on how to improve relationships between utilities and contractors. The panel included professionals with deep experience in managing these relationships from both sides of the aisle, including Cheryl Campbell, vice president of Gas at Xcel Energy; Jeff Tuttle, CEO of Heath Consultants; Michael Kemper, executive vice-president of Quanta Services Oil & Gas Group; Doug Reeves, president of Q3 Contracting; and Daniel J. Kovach, senior project manager at PSE&G.


“As a contractor, you are us,” Campbell said. “I worked hard on my reputation in those communities.”

Closing out the day, Paul Moran, director of Huron Consulting Group, discussed optimizing the cost of risk compliance management.

Details for the 2019 Pipeline Opportunities Conference, the 15th such event, will be available in October. P&GJ

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