Five Takeaways from URTeC 2021

August 1, 2021
Zack Warren

We spent the week in Houston attending URTeC and drinking far too much iced coffee. The Unconventional Resources Technology Conference is the biggest unconventional oil & gas conference for petrotechnical nerds, and a great place to see what’s happening in O&G software/tech.

Here are five quick takeaways if you missed it:

01. Small data science/software vendors showed up!

We saw several of the newer/smaller vendors with big booths and lots of activity. Great showing from ComboCurveWhitson+ROGII, and on and on. Several new tools have been built during the pandemic, and started to really see the light of day this week. Lots of enthusiasm about improved usability, cloud access, and pay-as-you-go models.

02. Big incumbents – not so much.

We suspect marketing budgets being slashed and the Delta variant in the news played a role in this, but we were a bit surprised at the list of no-shows. No booths or visible presence from Halliburton Landmark, Quorum/Aucerna, Kappa, or Peloton. Also no presence from the big industry-agnostic firms like Microsoft, AWS, or TIBCO.

03. IIOT is hot, starting to get oversaturated?

We learned about five new-to-us vendors in the SCADA/Industrial Internet of Things world this week, including some interesting stuff from Confluent (Kafka-as-a-service) and Hivecell (edge compute-as-a-service). There’s some really exciting stuff coming out that may very well be able to displace incumbents. But adding these to what’s already in the space makes us wonder – is the Total Addressable Market really big enough for all these to survive?

04. Lots of Digital Twin talk, not many case studies.

Digital Twins continue to attract marketing dollars, but the case studies still seem to be dominated by high-dollar applications like offshore production facilities. When and how can Digital Twins be brought to the onshore world, and can the implementation costs be brought down enough to generate real ROI for unconventionals?

05. It’s good to see you again, Houston!

The event had great content with a good buzz on the floor (thanks no doubt to $70/bbl oil and $4/mmbtu gas). While I’m guessing the URTeC organizers would have liked a better turnout, the tunnels were busy, the bars were fun, and the A/C was on full-blast. We’ll be back!

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