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|VOLUME 26 • NUMBER 6 • November/December 2002|
Buyers Guides for the Energy Industry
by Bill Crowley
Looking for something you need in the energy industry? A source for a product or a component to buy? Can't find an alternative supplier? Just want another company to bid on your project?
Finding new products, suppliers, equipment, and consultants has gotten significantly easier with the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Now we can source products from around the world or locate suppliers next door that we never knew existed.
One of the best ways to start your search for a new supplier or to find a product in a hurry is with the old traditional Buyers Guides. These are usually, but not always, special issues of a magazine in the topic area. Since my research is centered on the energy industry, I've picked that to illustrate the utility of Buyers Guides.
PLATFORMS, PUMPS, PIPELINES, AND PIGGING
PetroPages [www.petropages.com/] is specifically designed as an online Buyer's Guide, not as an addition to a journal or association. Thus, you will find this one to be a bit more helpful. PetroPages.com was the first process industry buyer's guide to go online (1995). PetroPage's easy-to-use search and well-organized product categorization system make finding suppliers a snap.
The PetroPages.com Buyer's Guide is available in two formats: online and PC-based. Both versions are available at no cost to buyers and engineers in the energy and process industries. You can search by product, supplier name, or all of PetroPages. Alternatively, you can find suppliers through its hierarchical 5,000-product categorization system. Begin with broad discipline categories, such as compressors, environmental, pumps, or valves, and select sequentially more specific ones. When you select a company, you get a very nice full profile about the company and a product listing. This is an excellent resource.
Pigging Products and Services Association Buyers Guide [www.piggingassnppsa.com/buyers.htm] is provided by an association, but you can use it even if you're not a member. According to the PPSA, "Pipeline pigs are devices that are inserted into and travel throughout the length of a pipeline driven by a product flow." This is a very simple click-and-drill-down guide to suppliers in this industry niche. You can initially select from buttons for pipeline pigs, pipeline pigging components and equipment, pipeline pigging services, in-line inspection services, consultancy services, or industrial pigging. If you work in the pipeline area, this is the buyer's guide for you.
Pipeline & Gas Journal's On-Line Buyer's Guide [www.undergroundinfo.com/PGJ/pgj_home.html] is another one for the pipeline industry and comes from the well-known journal, Pipeline & Gas Journal. Should you need something for your pipeline or underground work, take a look here. You can enter a keyword search or browse alphabetically.
There are so many product categories that I couldn't count them all. Select the category you need and you will get a list of corporations and contacts that provide what you need. I clicked on "Anchors, pipeline" and found five companies with addresses, phone, fax and e-mail contacts, and Web sites. I found 18 companies for "Coating, pipe tap." Do be careful: When you click on a category, it opens another browser page for you. This is a tremendous resource for a niche part of the energy industry.
CHEMICAL ENGINEERING, HYDROCARBONS, OFFSHORE
Chemical Engineering Buyers' Guide [http://redirect.che.com/login/login_prompt.lasso?ref=cebg&v=0], from the 100-year-old Chemical Engineering magazine, is mainly for the chemical engineer and the petroleum processing industries.
You will need to register first, which makes it part of the hidden Web, but it is free. The guide is worth your time, because there are over 7,000 companies listed here. After signing on, you can search by keyword, geographic region (state, province or country), or browse by category. I clicked on "Process Chemicals" and got 149 choices, so I picked "antioxidants" and was rewarded with 23 companies to choose from. A keyword search for "Processing Equipment" returns 26 sub-categories to choose from, so you can just keep drilling down to what you need. When you choose a company, you get all its contact information and a list of everything else it supplies.
Hydrocarbon Online Buyer's Guide [www.hydrocarbononline.com/buyersguide/] is a VerticalNet site, directed at the hydrocarbon processing industry. Here you can do a simple keyword search for products by name, suppliers by product, or suppliers by name. You can also drill down in categories like Equipment and Machinery; Information Technology; Materials and Components; Services and Supplies; and Accessories. The advanced search option adds geographic search components. Putting multiple terms into the search box results in an implied AND search strategy, which you can override with an OR. You can also search exact phrases by enclosing them in quotation marks and use parentheses for a true nested search. Once you've selected a company from your search results list, you are given basic contact information: address, phone, fax, and contact name. Hyperlinks take you to the company's Web page.
Hart's Offshore Buyers Guide [www.offshorebuyersguide.com/offshorebuyersguide/index_main.html] provides invaluable information about suppliers of products and services in the North Sea marketplace. Updated regularly, it can be used as a source of accurate business leads throughout the year. To perform a blanket search, ignore the search box; instead, simply click the search button next to the relevant box and a full list will appear.
Here you can conduct a simple keyword search, or perhaps a search by one of the following would help you more: company name; product or service; agent; and (unique to most buyer's guides) trademark. This Buyers Guide also includes the latest news, crude oil pricing, and much more. This is an excellent resource for information about companies and products in the North Sea.
ElectricNet Buyer's Guide [www.electricnet.com/buyersguide/] is a good spot to visit if you are in the electric power industry. You can do a keyword search by products by name, suppliers by product, or suppliers by name. You can also drill down by categories or conduct an advanced search. Market research reports and a bookstore are also available. If ElectricNet has a familiar look, that's because, like Hydrocarbon Online Buyer's Guide, it comes from VerticalNet.
Power Online Buyer's Guide [www.poweronline.com/buyersguide/] is more involved with the power industry in whole. You can also do a keyword search by products by name, suppliers by product, or suppliers by name. You can also drill down by categories or conduct an advanced search. Plus, you can order market research reports and shop the bookstore. Yes, it's very similar to the ElectricNet Buyer's Guideboth are from VerticalNet.
NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY
Gas Utility Manager's Buyer's Guide [www.gasindustries.com/buyersguide/buyguide.htm] can help you if you are in the natural gas distribution end of the industry. This is a simple one-step drill-down directory. Select the category you need (flow meters to natural gas vehicles) and you will get all the companies listed with contact information. Main category headings are computerization, field equipment, fleets, marketing, measurement, odorization, pipelines, and miscellaneous. Numerous sub-categories appear under those.
American Gas Association's Buyer's Guide [www.aga.org/Template.cfm?Section=Buyers_Guide1&Template=/Applications/BuyersGuide.cfm] is dedicated to the retail end of the natural gas industry and contains listings for some 900 companies. Topics go from Acoustical Engineering to Wire & Cable. It is searchable via either a keyword or drill-down directory. Your results will have the company's contact information. If the URL is too long for your taste, you can find the Buyer's Guide by clicking on Marketplace at the top of the home page.
Convenience Store News Buyer's Guide [www.mediabrains.com/client/conveniencsnb/bg1/search.asp] may seem like an odd site for the energy industry, yet convenience stores often sell gasoline along with beer and diapers. If you are in the consumer marketing part of the energy industry, this is the place for you. From fuel dispensers to food services to accounting consultants, you will find them here. Browsing by category will open your eyes to how much convenience stores have to offer.
There are many more Buyers Guides out there; these are just a few devoted to the energy industry segment. These Guides are great time savers, but there can be bias. Remember that the suppliers need to place their information into these portals. Some require the supplier to pay for the privilege, while some accept free basic listings. Many of the Web sites solicit your company's listing.
Bill Crowley [firstname.lastname@example.org] is President of Competitive Analysis Technologies in Cypress, Texas.
Comments? E-mail letters to the editor to email@example.com.