Hunt Oil signs deals at NAPE meeting in Houston

Feb. 5, 2001
Hunt Oil Co., Dallas, signed letters of agreement for two deals at the ninth annual North American Prospects Expo in Houston, company officials said Thursday. It was the first time that company has actually done a deal at what has become the industry�s best business-generating conference.

Hunt Oil Co., Dallas, signed letters of agreement for two deals at the ninth annual North American Prospects Expo in Houston, company officials said Thursday.

Under those two deals with Nexen Petroleum USA Inc., also in Dallas, Hunt Oil would take a major interest in a $15.5 million well to be drilled in the Gulf of Mexico this year and acquire acreage in south Louisiana for $300,000. Details of those deals are still to be negotiated, Hunt Oil officials said.

That marks a first for the company. �Hunt Oil had never before closed a deal at NAPE, although we signed some based on talks that started here,� said Bill F. Rex, the company�s manager of land and negotiations and chairman of this year�s 2-day exposition.

The two Dallas-based companies had discussed the potential deals prior to meeting in Houston at the exposition, presented by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). �Everyone necessary to do the deal was here and anxious to do it, so we signed the letters of intent,� Rex said.

Top industry meeting
Sold signs were plastered across prospect presentations at several exhibition booths by the time NAPE closed Thursday.

It�s that kind of business activity that has made it the second largest oil and gas industry conference behind the annual Offshore Technology Conference, said Rex and other participants in the exposition.

No one knows how many deals are made or at least started at NAPE each year. Based on extrapolations from surveys of those who bought booths to exhibit prospects at previous NAPEs, association staff members claim the average participating company makes one sale �approaching $1 million� as a result of the conference. �It started at $500,000 and has inched up,� said a spokesman.

At an average 500 exhibitors annually, that adds up to $500 million each year, said Bruce H. Vincent, executive vice-president of corporate development at Houston-based Swift Energy Co., who will serve as NAPE chairman in 2002.

The actual financial total of deals that can be traced back to NAPE is likely far higher than that, say some observers. And some of those deals are not only huge but historic.

�Amoco Corp. learned about Anadarko Petroleum Corp.�s subsalt trend at NAPE,� said one insider. In March 1993, Amoco bought into the Gulf of Mexico lease shared by Anadarko and Phillips Petroleum Co. where Mahogany field, the initial subsalt discovery, was drilled later that year.

Private facilities
To help stimulate deals, NAPE for the first time this year had 10 private meeting rooms available where company representatives could negotiate in private sessions. �But as with anything new, not everyone was aware of it,� said Vincent.

Participation at NAPE hit a record high this week, with more than 800 booths exhibiting various deals, up from the previous high of 680. That occupied about two-thirds of the ground floor space at the George R Brown Convention Center, so the exposition has more room to grow.

�Booths are priced so that any individual can show their prospects for less than $800 for 2 days," said Rex.

�There�s a high demand for that space, because the people who are here are the ones who get deals done. This is not an academic conference where engineers discuss technology. It�s a business conference,� he said.

Exposition sponsors at one time attempted to add topical presentations as a means of enhancing NAPE. However, Vincent said, participants quickly indicated they weren�t interested in leaving the exhibition floor where deals were being made or at least formed.

More than 8,000 industry representatives attended this year�s exposition, about 1,000 more than last year, officials said.

NAPE�s future
NAPE officials are looking for a special way to mark the exposition's tenth anniversary next year, Vincent said. Committee members will meet in March to analyze this week�s exposition and begin planning the next.

Participants have already expanded NAPE beyond its original North American designation to include foreign operations. �Tunisia was here in force this year, with six or seven people from their embassy and their US ambassador yesterday,� Rex said.

International participation is expected to continue to grow, with more companies and countries competing for oil and gas reserves and the cash to drill them.

�What this industry needs is growth in exploration,� said Jerry D. Jordan, president of Jordan Energy Inc. and IPAA chairman. �This annual meeting where people can share their ideas about prospects encourages exploration,� he said.

Organizers have talked of staging similar smaller international or even regional North American expositions to focus on specific areas.

But the current annual exposition seems to be �the right method,� said Rex.

�We have to be careful not to dilute our strengths,� Vincent said.

�Or our staffs,� Rex added. �The staffs of the two associations do all of the legwork on this.�