Global Petroleum Show exhibitors plunge by 25% in 2 years

The economic downturn in Alberta has taken its toll on Calgary's annual Global Petroleum Show — one of the largest of its kind in the world — with the number of exhibitors dropping by 25 per cent since 2014 peak.

Seeing 'renewed enthusiasm' in industry now that oil above $50, says vice-president of trade show

How are you feeling now that oil is back above $50 a barrel? That's the question we asked exhibitors at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary, Alta. 0:57

The economic downturn in Alberta has taken its toll on Calgary's annual Global Petroleum Show, with the number of exhibitors dropping by 25 per cent since peaking in 2014.  

The trade show, one of the largest of its kind in the world, drew roughly 2,000 exhibitors in 2014, approximately 1,800 in 2015, and just 1,500 in 2016.

"Certainly it has an impact. Like the oil and gas industry, when things are tough it's a bit of a negative effect," said Wes Scott, executive vice president of the Global Petroleum Show.

"But you're seeing 1,500 or so exhibiting companies here that see the need to be face to face with industry. You know if they're looking for that sale of that equipment, they need to be here to sell it," Scott said.

'Cautious optimism' in the industry

With oil back up above $50 a barrel, Scott said he's noticed a "renewed enthusiasm" among the exhibitors.

"The first half of the year has been very, very difficult for industry. A little bit of a glimmer of hope and optimism at $50 leads us to hope that it will go up from here," Scott said.

Organizers expect roughly 50,000 people to attend this year's Global Petroleum Show, which runs June 7 to 9 at Stampede Park. (CBC)

Tim Houghton, vice president of Xpera, has attended the trade show for the past six years and said this year's event was noticeably slower, but that there is a sense of "cautious optimism in the industry."

"Once it reaches that $50 mark, most of the industry seems to be indicating that they're looking for the $60 mark for an extended period of three months," Houghton said.

"There is a mood in the industry that hopefully it will pick up."

Tim Houghton, vice president of Xpera Risk Management, says he's hopeful that $50 oil could be the beginning of an economic recovery in the oil and gas industry. (CBC)

Green tech a hot topic

Scott said the trade show has been evolving over the years, shifting toward greater discussion of environmentally responsible practices.

"As the energy industry evolves, the global petroleum must as well," Scott said.

"We're adding things like clean tech. How are the renewables fitting in with an oil and gas economy? How does carbon play a role with the oil and gas industry? How do we make that from being a negative to being a positive?" he asked.

Roughly 50,000 people from as many as 90 countries are expected to attend this year's event, which runs June 7 to June 9 at Stampede Park.

Approximately 20,000 organizations are represented among the attendees and exhibitors, from as far as China, Kuwait and Mexico. (CBC)

With files from Geneviève Normand