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Small Crowds at Texas Oil Technology Conference

Low oil prices have reduced oil exploration and development activity around the world.

Tens of thousands of workers have lost jobs with oil companies and in the oil service industry in recent months.

So it was no surprise that attendance was down at the recent Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas.

The conference has been a meeting place for oil and gas industry representatives for the past 47 years. In other years, large crowds attended the event.

A number of oil services companies were represented at the conference this month. That is because these businesses know that oil prices will one day rise and their services will be needed.

Milo Lu works for the Chinese company HuangHua Group. He told VOA that low prices have reduced oil exploration activity almost everywhere.

“The only area that we still have something going on is probably (the) Middle East -- everywhere else its pretty dead.”

But he said it was important for his company to attend the conference this year.

“You just have to show your face. You still gotta let people know that you're still here.”

Service companies attending the conference offered things like large ships, exploration platforms and small devices that measure oil flow through pipes.

Richard Nott works for Lloyd’s Register Energy, which has offices in London. He admits many companies have stopped looking for oil. But he says they will someday need his company’s help.

“Many of these projects that have been cancelled or deferred, they've not gone away. They have gone away for a rethink as to how we can do this more cheaply, how we can maybe do it quicker, and how we can maybe do it more effectively.”

Steve Kosch represented 3M Corporation at the Offshore Technology Conference. He demonstrated a safety system that helps workers escape from tall structures in a fire or building collapse.

“You still have employees working for you. They're gonna be out there working at heights. And so you have to protect those workers. Obviously, we're trying to find solutions for the employers, to try to find low-cost solutions to their, their needs.”

In recent weeks, world oil prices have stopped their sharp drop. But most people at the conference said they are preparing for low prices through next year and beyond.

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

VOA Correspondent Greg Flakus reported this story from Houston. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

offshore – adj. located in the ocean away from the shore

platform – n. a usually raised structure that has a flat surface where people or machines do work

defer – v. to choose to do (something) at a later time

cheaply – adv. not costing a lot of money

heights – n. a great distance above the ground

beyond – adv. to or until a later time