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University of Houston Law Center conference on April 26 to focus on offshore drilling safety

Energy leaders will share concerns and possible solutions to deal with policy and technological challenges facing the oil and gas industry

April 6, 2018 — Government officials, oil and gas executives and academics will gather at the University of Houston  April 26 to discuss key issues and explore solutions to problems facing the offshore oil and gas industry in the western hemisphere.

The Second Inter-American Hydrocarbons Regulators Dialogue Conference is sponsored by the Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Center at the UH Law Center. The focus of the day-long conference is:  "New Technology and Regulatory Challenges for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations."

The biennial gathering is designed to share legal, technical and policy expertise and foster an appreciation of different perspectives faced by each of the three major interdependent sectors of the oil and gas industry. The exchange of ideas among regulators, companies and universities is especially important today given greater offshore activity in the region.

The program will include experts from the Brazilian Petroleum Agency; the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement; the Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy; and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries of Trinidad and Tobago. Participating universities are the University of West Indies, Texas A&M University and UH, along with industry organizations, including the International Association of Drilling Contractors.

The keynote speaker will be Tim Duncan, CEO of Talos Energy LLC, offshore operator of Zama-1, the first offshore exploration well drilled by the private sector in Mexico's history.

"For this second edition of the Inter-American Hydrocarbons Regulators Dialogue it was clear that the main topic of discussion should center on offshore oil and gas operations given future projects in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Ecuador," said  Julian Cardenas, research assistant professor at the UH Law Center.

"Some of these countries have mature offshore regulation, while others are still under development. This forum will offer an opportunity for exchanges among industry players. Today, the consequences of an offshore accident are not limited to the parties involved and a specific contractual area, but potentially to the industry worldwide. This is why it is in the interest of the global oil and gas industry to respect industry best practices for sustainable development."

UH has taken on a major role in offshore drilling safety with a new research project. In December, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine awarded a $1.2 million grant to UH researchers to develop new ways to predict when an offshore drilling rig is at risk for a potentially catastrophic accident.

The research, led by UH Chief Energy Officer Ramanan Krishnamoorti, will draw upon the expertise of the school's data scientists, petroleum engineers and geoscientists. The project grew out of discussions between the International Association of Drilling Contractors and the Subsea Systems Institute, a research center led by UH, with partners Rice University and NASA Johnson Space Center. Krishnamoorti, a chemical engineer, also serves as director of the Institute.

Krishnamoorti said it is critical to establish communications about best practices between offshore regulators and the cutting-edge and continually accelerating technological and business developments in exploration, drilling, production and decommissioning.

"Continued improvements in safety, reliability and continued competitiveness of offshore oil and gas production require that regulations can respond to the latest technological and business practices," Krishnamoorti said. "This conference in Houston, just prior to the 50th Offshore Technology Conference, will provide the opportunity for this dialog between key stakeholders."

The conference will be held at the University of Houston Hilton, Thursday, April 26, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is also part of a broader initiative promoted by the EENR Center, the Inter-American Hydrocarbons Regulators Dialogue, which includes a speaker series, research, publications and international exchanges. More information about this program is available at the website. Click here to register.

Media contacts: Carrie Anna Criado, UH Law Center Assistant Dean of Communications and Marketing, 713-743-2184,; Elena Hawthorne, Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing, 713-743-1125,; John T. Kling, Communications Manager, 713-743-8298,; John Brannen, Senior Writer, 713-743-3055,; and Lisa Lane, Program Manager II, 713-743-2259,

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 45,000 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

About the University of Houston Law Center

The University of Houston Law Center (UHLC) is a dynamic, top tier law school located in the nation's 4th largest city. UHLC's Health Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Part-time programs rank in the U.S. News Top 10. It awards Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees, through its academic branch, the College of Law. The Law Center is more than just a law school. It is a powerful hub of intellectual activity with more than 11 centers and institutes which fuel its educational mission and national reputation. UHLC is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

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