World Petroleum Congress returns to Houston this weekend

Event takes place amid uncertainty over industry’s future, new coronavirus variant

The conference starts Sunday at GRB

HOUSTON – The World Petroleum Congress returns to the United States and the city of Houston for the first time since 1987.

The event, originally planned for 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic, convenes Dec. 5-9 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

“We’re the center for oil and gas. We’re recognized as the center for oil and gas. That’s one of the reasons that we were awarded this event,” said Jeff Shellebarger, chairman of the 23rd World Petroleum Congress.

The conference is expected to bring together 4,000 people from 70 countries to the Houston area this weekend.

“What we’re planning to do is host a conversation about the state of the industry. Particularly, the conversation is going to focus on energy transition,” Shellebarger said.

The debate over the future of the energy industry has market watchers worried that the deep dependence on fossil fuels could push oil prices to $150 a barrel in a few years, leading to $5 a gallon gas.

“For a lot of reasons, one could easily see not just a $150 barrel of oil, but $200 or $300 a barrel in the next two to three years. And this is going to have significant consequences for the world,” said Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti, University of Houston professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, and Chemistry and Chief Energy Officer.

This will be the first convention at the George R. Brown convention center since the onset of Omicron, the latest COVID variant.

Organizers say the event will be safe and protocols are in place to ensure attendees are either fully vaccinated or will be tested each day of the convention.

“I’m very comfortable with the fact that it will be a very safe and successful event once people are able to get here with vaccines testing and masking that we’ll have in place,” said Michael Heckman, president of Houston First, which operates the convention center.

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