A total of 579 people attended GITA's 12th Annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference Sept. 29-Oct. 1, in Houston, Texas. While the total attendance fell just short of the previous year's record total of 588, user registrations for the conference increased by more than 10 percent from 2002. Total paid registrations for the 2003 conference also increased 11 percent from 2002.

The GIS for Oil & Gas Conference is the only event of its kind, drawing together professionals from the GIS (geographic information system) and oil and gas industries for two and a half days of seminars, workshops, and an exhibition.

This year's conference focused primarily on using GIS to ensure pipeline system integrity, as many users work to become compliant with new federal regulations.

David Nemeth of Panhandle Energy in Houston, conference chair, said he was pleased with the positive reactions to the event. "In speaking with the attendees, it sounds as if the conference hit its mark," he said. "The program advisory council put a lot of work into developing a highly educational event that was highly relevant to what the industry is facing."

"This is my first time at the conference," said new GITA member Tom Lagerquist of Peregrine Environmental in Loomis, Calif. "It's just fascinating to learn about all of this. This has been really helpful for me."

Ted Peay, project coordinator at Questar Regulated Services, Salt Lake City, Utah, spoke about the additional educational aspects of the annual conference. "It brings the pipeline industry together, to where you're all focused on all the new rules that have come out," he said. "That brings a reality to it all. The workshops have been really good, but what I've gotten a lot out of is just talking with individuals-seeing what works and what doesn't. The workshops are great because they highlight the topics of discussion, but being able to talk with the people who come to the conference is the part I really appreciate."

Attendees said they found the exhibit hall, which featured 45 vendors, an educational opportunity as well. "The whole GIS process is new to our company, so it's a learning experience," said Dennis Kooney, project specialist, Con Edison, Bronx, N.Y. "There's a lot of different information from vendors. We're shopping around for a system, so in that respect, it's been educational. It's been worthwhile.

Vendors said they found the attendees to be well-qualified and interested in the products and services being offered. "We've had some really good prospects. We've visited with some quality people," said Sue Lokay of Conestoga-Rovers and Associates.

"It went well-I'm hearing good things," said Andrew Zolnai, petroleum industry marketing manager, ESRI, Redlands, Calif. "I like the format of the conference, and it's in a great place for the industry-all of my users are here."

The 13th Annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference, set for the JW Marriott Hotel in Houston, is scheduled for Sept. 20-Sept. 22, 2004.

Source: GITA, Oct. 21, 2003