By Ben DuBose
HOUSTON -- Discussions for engineering deals
in downstream and other energy sectors have increased
rapidly in the first quarter of 2012 compared with
fourth quarter of 2011, according to Peter Oosterveer,
president of the energy and chemicals (E&C) segment at
Oosterveer spoke to Hydrocarbon Processing on the
sidelines of the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston, where he
participated in a panel discussion on the energy outlook for
North Africa and the Middle East.
In particular, he noted that his overall industry outlook
had brightened considerably since a prior interview in November.
Theres increased activity on the proposal and
pursuit fronts, Oosterveer said. Were seeing
many more opportunities now that we are working on as we speak
than three or four months ago.
Its a lot of stuff, starting with FEED
(front-end engineering and design) and progressing into other
things, he added. When we get involved in FEED
work, it typically evolves into downstream things as
One bright spot appears to be opportunities connected to
shale gas in the US, he said.
A year ago I wasnt as bullish on development of
new facilities in the US for shale gas
as I am right now, Oosterveer said.
Now I see clients, and weve heard a couple here,
actually saying that theyre working on a number of projects directly associated with
shale gas, he continued.
The social acceptance of shale gas and fracking for
the benefit of domestic consumption is the first step, and
were getting there.
The US industrys next step will be the opportunity to
export, said Oosterveer.
There are quite a few people in the US nervous about
if we were to export, what it would do to the price, he
said. There have been studies done, showing there will be
an impact, but relatively small.
Another step in the US would be giving natural
gas a larger role in the transportation fuels pool, he
Ive never understood this, to be honest,
said Oosterveer. In Europe, gas is a much bigger share. I
had a car 20 years ago that drove on gas. I dont
Of course, you need investments in
infrastructure, he cautioned. When that happens,
the landscape may look very different 10 years from
Outside the US, business continues to be dependable in the
Middle East, said Oosterveer, who noted that he had just
returned from a trip to that region.
Despite rising political turmoil in Iran and sanctions on
the nations crude, project activity in the region has
not been significantly impacted, according to the Fluor
Theres the belief that cooler heads will
ultimately prevail, said Oosterveer. No one is
extremely worried, but there is concern.
Its hard to replace that supply if push came to
shove, but its not impossible, he continued.
It can be done, though. I think Iran needs the rest of
the world, and particularly the revenue from energy, more so
than the rest of the world needs Iran.
Its not having major impact on our projects.
The CERAWeek 2012 conference takes place from March 5-9
at the Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas. For more details on
the event, click here. Stay tuned to
Hydrocarbon Processing for further coverage.