DALLAS—Despite the peaks and valleys of the oil and gas market, the Energy Polymer Group continues to thrive, according to Neil Mendes, chair of the group and also CEO of Alpine Polytek.
The Dallas-based group of the ACS Rubber Division has 400 members, conducts three technical meetings a year and typically has good attendance, even during downtimes, he said. There normally is a meeting in Houston in winter that gets about 250 attendees, one in spring in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that draws anywhere from 150-250, and one in the fall that rotates—it will be held in San Antonio this year—and brings in 250-300.
The spring meeting is scheduled for May 20 in Arlington, Texas, and Mendes said a decision will need to be made soon on whether to cancel it because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Energy Polymer Group—formerly the Energy Rubber Group—celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and lists its four stated goals on its website:
- To provide scientific, engineering and business knowledge required by its membership;
- To become a recognized technical body on the subject of engineered polymers;
- To increase end user participation in the EPG; and
- To attract and educate members entering the industry.
Energy Polymer Group is able to remain healthy at a time when some area rubber groups struggle to draw attendees to technical sessions due to participation from the full supply chain, according to Mendes. There are operators such as BP, ExxonMobil, Shell and Occidental Petroleum; chemical companies like Solvay, DuPont and Evonik; seal companies, including Greene Tweed, Trelleborg, Freudenberg and Parker-Hannifin; and converters that injection mold the polymers and sell it broadly into the marketplace.
"We never have less than 125 people at our meetings. Even during the downturn of 2015-16, we had well over 100 people show up at our meetings in Dallas," he said. "During the boom times in 2014, Houston had more than 400 people."
Mendes said the group was started in 1980 by polymer chemists from such big oilfield service companies as Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Weatherhead and others. "And because they supported it so well, their supply chain supported it," he said.
The Energy Polymer Group also has a strong volunteer organization, which allows it to keep the cost of attending meetings reasonable. The technical programs generally have seven to eight speakers for a one-day session. He said there generally are a couple each from plastics, rubber, processors and end users. Topics can cover a variety of topics, from new resins, compounds and machinery, to updates on standards and market trends.
"We've always had this good mixture, so whoever shows up will get something out of it," Mendes said. "If nothing else, it may educate you about something that's not in your wheelhouse, but still about polymers. Sometimes it goes hand in hand, and it works quite well."