The State of Houston’s Global Economy 

Houston's economy

On Monday 5/22/2017, the Greater Houston Partnership hosted an event called ‘The State of Houston’s Global Economy’ so it’s members could get the latest global economic outlook. The event featured a morning panel discussion among three executives who lead global institutions in Houston, Renu Khator, Chancellor and President, University of Houston, Jean-Francois Poupeau, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development, Schlumberger and Manolo Sánchez, Chairman, BBVA Compass. The mediator of this panel was Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership.

Khator started the panel discussion on Houston’s global economy by describing Houston as a global knowledge center, since Houston has the features of a global knowledge hub: high concentration of talent, a big industrial cluster, presence of cross-cutting technology industries, a lot of research institutes, an innovative ecosystem and the global connectivity. According to the Brookings institution research group, Houston can call itself one of the 19 knowledge hubs in the world with all these features. This top 19 is really a competition between major global metropoles, so Houston has to take a look further now to stay competitive.

According to Khator is the density of talent a good measurement of the successfulness of a city. Houston has a high density of talent and need to keep it this way. Last week 8690 students graduated from the University of Houston. 60% of them are staying in Houston, 80% in Texas. The city of Houston has to give the talents a reason to stay, because Houston needs a powerhouse for research, innovation etc. The universities are fueling the local economy.

The University of Houston plays an imported role in this fueling process by being the 2nd most diverse University in Houston and by recruiting 5 members of the National Academy. 1 out of 4 Houstonians are born outside of the USA. Nowadays there is a lot to do on immigration. Khator sees an impact of these undercurrents. There’s a lot of misinformation and anxiety, causing a drop in international students. There is more effort on communication needed.

According to Poupeau the key to Houston’s success is the stability to welcome all nationalities. Houston has no problem at all in recruiting top engineers. More and more of the global leaders of Schlumberger are coming from Houston.

Sánchez pointed out that Texas is growing every year with 5%, which makes it an emerging market. This is all thanks to the business- and idea friendliness of city of Houston, but also Texas. The miss right now in Houston is the amount of start-ups. The innovation system needs to be more present. At this time, Houston is 3rd in the state of Texas when it comes to start-up, this is too low, Houston is never the 3rd in anything in Texas. It’s hard to pinpoint what is causing the lack of start-ups. Last week the GHP announced the start of an Innovation Strategy Office together with the City of Houston, part of an effort to improve Houston’s start-up culture. We will report more about those ideas and innovations soon.

During the luncheon, the Partnership’s SVP of Research, Patrick Jankowski, shared his findings on Houston’s global trade and investment ecosystem. The question he asked is if Houston is a global city? According to the department of commerce there’s a five-point checklist to determine if Houston is a global city.

The first checkpoint is trade. Houston is on the 3rd place when it comes to export (after NYC and LA) with $93,7 billion in export. The Port of Houston is the port of entry and exit for raw, intermediate and finished goods. Exports exceeds the import of goods and materials. So, Houston is absolutely present in the USA when it comes to trade.

The second checkpoint is Foreign Investment, measured by the amount of foreign subsidiaries (Shell), Greenfield projects (Akzo Nobel), Mergers & Acquisitions and Foreign owned properties. On all these aspects, Houston scores really high.

Another way to measure how global a city is, is to determine how well connected the city is. Houston intercontinental airport has 19 foreign flag carriers, services at 70 overseas markets and 11.6 million international passengers per year. This makes Houston the no. 6 airport in the USA when it comes to overseas services. In addition to the airport, Houston has 4 big ports: Houston, Galveston, Texas City and Freeport. 5000 companies are involved in global commerce; 33% of the revenue of companies based in Houston are earned overseas. 23,7% of the Houstonians are born overseas, with their children you can count on 2.2. million people who have ties overseas.

The last checkpoint is ‘dominance’. Is there a dominant industry present in the city? Dominance means that when you’re not in that city as a company, you’re out of the business. This is the case for the Oil & Gas industry. Houston has a dominance in the Energy market. With this last checkpoint, Houston crossed off all the points on the checklist. We can confirm what we’ve known for years: Houston is indeed a global city and a great place to do business!


Posted by Mariella Priem May 25, 2017

The City of Waco 


Waco is a lesser known city in the heartland of Texas. The City of Waco is located in the heart of the Texas manufacturing and technology corridor on Interstate Highway 35, just 90 miles south of Dallas and 100 miles north of Austin.

The city was founded in 1849 by the Huaco Indians that lived on the land in the present-day downtown area. Waco is the county seat of McLennan County. The US Census 2016 population estimate for the Waco MSA is 265,207, making it the 22nd-most populous city in the state. Waco offers some major attractions, five historic homes, seven recreational venues, and nine arts organizations staging theatrical and musical productions, as well as art exhibitions.

The City is the birthplace of Dr Pepper, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Waco is also home to the Waco Mammoth National Monument, a 100-plus acre stretch of wooded parkland along the Bosque River. The site provides a glimpse into the lives of Columbian mammoth bones discovered in Waco along the Bosque River and is part of the National Parks System.

Waco has the resources, water, land, infrastructure, labor force, essential services, strategic partnerships and incentives for innovative industrial development. For an elaborative report on economic development opportunities and forecasts on the Waco economy check this link:

Waco is not only brimming with Texas history, economic opportunity, and a rich variety of cultural experiences, it is also a major seat of higher learning with three major colleges in its city limits including:

Baylor University

Texas State Technical College

McLennan Community College

The city boasts one of the of the biggest and best municipal parks in Texas, Cameron Park. The 416-acre park is located in the heart of Waco, next to downtown, situated on the Brazos and Bosque Rivers. It hosts numerous races, triathlons, boat races and more.

Waco has big city advantages without the big city hassles. You won't find heavy traffic, long commutes, long lines, or a high cost of living. You can live in the country but have quick, easy access to downtown, I-35 and other major highways.

According to the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, the top employers in the city are:






Baylor University



Waco Independent School District



Providence Health Center



L3 Technologies



Baylor Scott & White Health (Hillcrest)






City of Waco






Midway Independent School District



Sanderson Farms, Inc.


Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 12, 2017

Geothermal energy 


Geothermal energy

Next to hydropower and biomass, geothermal energy is the largest renewable energy resource in the U.S.  Harvesting geothermal energy distinguishes between energy gained from two or three km deep under the ground and from energy gained from approximately 100 m under the ground. The deeper the exploration the higher the temperature required. The United States have the most geothermal power of the world. Texas has the potential to contribute 10% to the United States’ geothermal energy potential. Currently, geothermal energy production in Texas is less than 1%.

Potential for geothermal energy in deeper earth finds itself in various ways. There is space for hydrothermal resources, as indicated by the orange areas in the adjacent figure. These are found in fractured and porous rocks in form of hot water or steam. Geo-pressured resources are represented by the green spots on the map below. They consist of hot brine with methane and are found in deep aquifers where water is trapped under high pressure due to burial processes. Also, the heated geological formation of hot dry rock is present in the East of Texas, providing possibilities for heating and electricity. In addition to that, the areas designated by the lines in the map show large geothermal potential, for the existence of oil and gas wells proved to hold temperatures above 212 degree Fahrenheit (100 degree Celsius) in these regions, some above 300 degree Fahrenheit (150 degree Celsius).

Since Texas has the experience of locating oil and gas resources and thus the skills for subsurface analyses of heat-resources, reservoirs and deep-water availability, they have an advantage in locating and drilling for geothermal resources as well. Costs of drilling wells have reduced, which is attributed to the improvements in drilling technology and horizontal drilling, which also allows for more efficient drilling in different directions. Next to that, hydraulic fracturing increased the permeability of the shale formations. Technology advancements in binary cycle heat exchange systems allow for efficient economic power creation with lower boiling points.

One big potential for geothermal energy production in Texas lies in the co-production with oil and gas wells, which produce hot fluids as a waste product representing a cost reduction for oil and gas producers in disposing of this co-product.

The Geothermal Laboratory of the Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Austin are research institutes assessing this potential. To obtain more knowledge about available resources, the National Geothermal Data System was developed, a website providing data for all states about criteria for geothermal development. The company Thermal Energy Partners, located in Austin, plans and implements geothermal power plant projects on a worldwide scale and are open to partner up with international research institutes and companies.

Another application of geothermal energy is geothermal heat pumps or heat exchange systems which employ geothermal energy from shallower grounds with temperatures of 10-30 Celsius. These technologies make use of a loop system in 60-80m deep ground where temperatures remain constant. Warmer water underground is pumped to heat houses and buildings during winter time under higher compression of the pump. During summer time underground temperatures are colder than the air above. Therefore, the fluid from underground is now transported to the pump and circulated to supply the building with cooler air. There is economic efficiency involved, as one unit of electricity is needed by the heat pump to generate four to five units of heat. A gas furnace can only produce one unit of heat for one unit of electricity. The U.S Department of Energy emphasizes that every state in the U.S. has the potential to deploy geothermal heat pumps as the ground has the same shallow ground temperature. In 2015 there has been an initiative by Whisper Valley in Texas to help the City of Austin reach its CO2 reduction goals by introducing 7500 net-zero solar and geothermal power equipped homes. The technology for this makes use of a heat pump geo-exchange system. In addition to this initiative ensured by international companies, there are several other private businesses from San Antonio until Dallas. Originally providing air-conditioning, they also discovered the potential of environmental friendly geothermal heating for houses and buildings.

There is clearly an established market for geothermal heat exchange systems. The great potential for deeper geothermal energy exploration has still to be taken up. With studies showing that geothermal energy from oil and gas wells could only cost $0.10 per kWh and the increasing demand for efficient energy, geothermal energy could just fulfill what we are looking for.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 12, 2017

OTC 2017 

OTC 2017

From May 1- May 4, the yearly Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) was hosted at the NRG stadium in Houston. Despite the current price of oil at $40[/bbl], a lot of Offshore Technology Companies were still present at this event. Organized by the IRO (The association of Dutch suppliers in the oil and gas industry and offshore renewable industry), the Dutch presence was remarkable again this year with 46 Dutch companies, an estimated amount of 500 Dutch visitors and a very noticeable orange Holland Pavilion, spread out over 1000 m2 in the NRG Stadium. The overall conclusion of the exhibitors at the OTC is that the conference is better visited this year in comparison to last year. The OTC is seen as an event where you have to be present as an Offshore company, since high-level representatives of the companies will be present on the exhibition as well. However, the first analyses show that the event is that the attendance of the OTC fell again this year. Just under 65,000 people wandered the exhibits at Houston's NRG Park, down from 68,000 last year and 95,000 in 2015. Attendance has plunged nearly 40 percent since hitting a record 108,000 in 2014, the peak of the last oil boom.


Although the general opinion is less pessimistic than last year ‘it is getting better’, most companies are moderately optimistic at best about a possible surplus in 2017. For a lot of companies, cost reducing measurements are still necessary in 2017, including downsizing of the workforce. Talking to the representatives of the different companies, a few trends can be analyzed:


·         The exploration and completing of new oil and gas wells is on hold. For companies with a complete dependency on those activities, these are difficult times. There’s lot of overcapacity at this moment. 

·         Because of the low price of oil, there’s a huge pressure to keep the cost price as low as possible. All the activities need to be completed at minimal costs. Companies with cost-cutting, innovative ideas are the most likely to be hired for the job. Dutch companies are well equipped for those cost-cutting ideas.

·         A lot of Dutch companies are actively involved in the installation of Offshore Wind farms. This market is relatively new and is developing at a fast pace, especially in the North Sea. The Offshore Wind farm market in North-East America is expected to be an import export market for the Netherlands.

·         Another trend is the decommissioning of oil platforms. After the useful life of an oil and gas platform, it must be decommissioned (i.e., dismantled and disposed of). A lot of the Dutch exhibitions at the OTC are equipped for the decommissioning of the platforms, which creates a growing number of projects for now and in the future. Two examples of this decommission market are Heerema and Allseas who both recently scored a big project in this market.

Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 12, 2017

King's Day 2017 was a huge succes! 

King's Day in Houston: 200 guests, 500 bitterballen, 100 kroketten, 450 sate's, 300 stroopwafels and lots of orange. It was a huge success. A new tradition has arisen

Thank you all for joining us in celebrating King’s Day on April 27th. We hope you had a fantastic evening. For those who were not able to join us, we hope to see you next year! For sure, a new tradition has arisen.

Special thanks to our valued sponsors: Jackson Walker, PKF Texas,  Mammoet, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Central Market, De Stroopclub and Heerema Marine Contractors. Thanks for making King’s Day 2017 possible!

The photo's and quotes from our guests give a good impression of the evening. We would like to share these with you.

“The King’s Day party was a great event. Congratulations to the NBSO and NACCTX on organizing a fun evening.  My partners and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet new and existing acquaintances and further expand US – Dutch business connections while celebrating a great Dutch holiday”  

 James Prappas, JW  

"Oranje boven”. Again a real cozy event of the Dutch contingent in Houston. Go on with it!

Henk Jelsma, Radial Drilling Services

“It was wonderful to see so many new and familiar faces at the King’s Day celebration, which enjoyed a record attendance. A fun evening that gave us all a taste of home. Looking forward to this event being the first of many to come and look to the Chamber to partner with you again next year. Congratulations on a job well done!”     

Nadia Sant, NACCTX                                                                                   

“The party was a huge success. It was very nice to see so many Dutch people dressed up in orange in Houston!”    

Tjitske van Schelven, Mammoet                                       

"What a great event to celebrate our Kings birthday! Organization was perfect and it was fun to have a bit of Holland, right in the heart of Houston! Good food, drinks and company with a splash of orange equals a perfect night"

Jeannine Verweij, Scandia Gear  

“Great atmosphere and ambiance. Nice to make a toast to our King with so many familiar and new faces”             

 Albertien Greijdanus, TMC innovation institute 

“King’s Day in Houston made all the guests feel back home in the Netherlands for a little while with all the stroopwafels, bitterballen, Dutch music and gezelligheid (the Dutch word that cannot be translated)”

Simone van de Garde, MDAnderson Cancer Center                                                                                                                                  

We hope to see you all next year!






Posted by Saskia Pardaans May 05, 2017