Energy Today and Tomorrow

So I spent the day yesterday at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, which is the Woodstock for oil and gas tech geeks. It is gi-normous: as many as 80,000 people from around the world are attending, and it takes up the entire Reliant Center, filling two huge buildings and spilling out into the old Astrodome parking lot, too. I spoke with people from Singapore, China, South Africa, Angola, and several European countries. Michael Bromwich, head of the revamped minerals management service in the Dept. of Interior, came to make a lunch speech about how the Obama Administration is really, really, double-pinkie-swear, pro-offshore drilling. He was not well received.
A couple of impressions come to mind. You could take every “green tech” expo and trade show in the country, with all of their solar-powered toasters and wind-driven dairy cow milking machines, and they’d all fit in a tiny corner of the exhibit hall here. If you want to see where the cutting edge of innovation and investment in energy (most of it totally unsubsidized) is taking place it is in oil and gas. You can also tell walking through the hall how entrepreneurial and competitive this industry is: there are hundreds of small companies here driving the technology for oil and gas with their widgets and gizmos. It is clear to me that a lot of people are here to spy on their competition, and see what new things the other guy has come up with.
Finally, a photo quiz: which one is the blowout preventer in this photo?