September 2018, Vol. 245, No. 9


Pipeline Technology Forum: New Name, Same Goals for GITA Fall Conference:

By Matthew G. Thomas, past Chairman, GITA Program Committee

GITA’s fall GIS conference Oct. 16-18 has a new name, the Pipeline Technology Forum, and the 2018 event is alive and well!

For 27 years, GITA has helped pull together key decision-makers, practitioners, service providers, regulatory specialists and policy-makers within the Oil and Gas Pipeline GIS community annually for a fall conference in Houston. These events have had several names over the years, however, the goal of delivering attendees critical, timely, accurate and actionable information considerate of new technologies, regulatory changes, industry best practices, and value remains the same.

To achieve this lofty goal each year, GITA pulls together a group of dedicated and passionate volunteers to serve as the event’s Advisory Board, and it is those individuals – with a helping hand from a willing partner that coordinates the event logistics – who shape the program, presentations and overall event to ensure it is a success and time well spent by those in attendance. This year – 2018 – saw a further evolution of the event as the PODS Association chose to decouple their annual event from GITA’s and as a new partner – Gulf Energy Information – was brought in to help facilitate the conference.

There can be no denying that GITA’s fall event has changed, and one of the many things I’ve learned in my 20 years in this industry is that changes rarely come without challenges. But my experiences have also taught me some other things about change: it isn’t always bad, it is often misunderstood, and it is, more often than not, a necessary partner to growth and improvement. It is these latter lessons that I’d like to focus on…

Why the change is good …

GITA’s fall event will now be known as the Pipeline Technology Forum. While the previous inclusion of the PODS Association and its Board of Director’s agenda was a welcomed addition to the GITA educational content and vendor exhibit floor, the reality is the Conference Advisory Board will now have an opportunity to refocus program content on highlighting a variety of proven solutions and concepts.

Instead of targeting a specific implementation pattern, database structure, or desired end result, presentations and panel discussions will have a more “organic” flavor and will focus more on methodology and process. This was a hallmark of GITA’s GIS for Oil and Gas Conferences over the years and was a key driver to the success of those events.

Beyond the substantive change to the overall approach and messaging of the program, GITA’s new partner in coordinating this event (Gulf Energy Information) is laser-focused on providing an enjoyable, memorable and valuable experience to all those who attend. As important, Gulf Energy Information has a plan and approach that values targeted and meaningful growth of the event as they look to ensure the relevance of this conference even as the pipeline industry continues to evolve. Gulf Energy Information has developed data for the pipeline industry using the ESRI platform, so the company has a greater understanding of market dynamics.

Having a responsible, knowledgeable and conscientious partner in this space – one that valued the history of the conference while also knowing what drives the oil and gas industry – is something GITA prioritized in seeking out an organization to administrate this event, and Gulf Energy Information has certainly held up their end of their bargain on this front!

Clarifying the misconceptions of this change …

The easiest way to frame this is to say simply “the reports of the demise of GITA’s Oil and Gas Pipeline Conference have been greatly exaggerated.” Yes, GITA’s involvement with Pipeline Week itself will cease to exist, but the conference and exhibit floor will remain, featuring many of the very same service providers that have made GITA’s exhibition a “must-attend” for over two decades.

The papers selected for inclusion in the 2018 program are still going to be delivered as part of the Pipeline Technology Forum. The Pipeline Technology Forum will still feature informational panels covering critical industry topics such as Regulatory Response and Preparedness, the Application of New and Emerging Technologies, and As-Built and Survey Best Practices. Even the networking events will continue as previously planned.

As you may well know, the PODS Association has recently announced the scheduling of its fall event. Speaking on behalf of GITA, we wish PODS nothing but success as many of us who serve on the GITA’s Conference Advisory Board are looking forward to attending that event. But the PODS content was only one course in the proverbial conference meal, and to carry that analogy further, I’m pleased to report that the remaining plates will still be served at the new Pipeline Technology Forum in mid-October!

Change leads to growth and improvement …

I’ve had the privilege of serving on GITA’s Advisory Board for this event – regardless of its name – since 2003, serving as Conference Chair of this event on two separate occasions. At the onset of my service, it was made very clear that our priorities in planning these events were to focus on some very recognizable goals and expectations: bring value to attendees by delivering meaningful and timely content, maintain neutrality (to ensure we don’t inadvertently lead people toward or away from specific solutions), offer voices to all those in the industry who wish to speak, and be willing to evolve with the needs of the industry. Those very same principles remain intact today and drive every decision that is made around the future of this conference.

The changes that you have heard about are real, to be sure, but it would not be accurate to assume that the 2018 event will be a victim of those changes. In fact, for those of us who continue to be involved with the planning of this event, we see those changes as opportunities to reshape the program in a way that will improve the experience of those who attend and allow for more open dialogue and more far-reaching solutions. Let’s not lose sight of that reality that GITA helped bring value to the oil and gas pipeline industry for decades before co-locating with Pipeline Week. As the conference returns to those successful roots, GITA is driven by their purpose of offering the communities they serve information and resources that will help those communities successfully navigate through their day-to-day challenges.

With all this change, I would be remiss not to mention one thing that, through this all, has not changed: the Conference Advisory Board. The very same group of industry professionals who were helping shape the previous events have recommitted their energies to make the Pipeline Technology Forum a success. Many of these folks – myself included – were contributing to this event for years, and every one of us is vested in and committed to the success of this conference, regardless of its name!

Through our passion and dedication, the Pipeline Technology Forum will once again deliver on this event’s longtime commitment to bring the attendees value, unbiased information, a place to be seen and heard, and an understanding of what industry changes are coming and what they mean to you and your teams! Don’t miss out on your opportunity to once again sate your appetite for all things GIS and pipeline in Houston this October! To register, visit

See you in October! P&GJ

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