Optimism and opportunities – Conference day one draws to an emphatic close
With the presentations concluded and the evening’s promotional booth session underway, the first day of the gasworld Middle East Industrial Gas Conference 2011 has drawn to an upbeat close.
An emphatic record audience of more than 220 delegates have been captivated by the potential of the Middle East gases market, after several keynote speakers delivered rousing verdicts on the opportunities ahead in the region.
Almost four years to the day since gasworld hosted its first ever conference in the Emirate of Dubai, the platform for knowledge exchange returned to the region to discuss Balancing Growth and Investment.
The Jumeirah Beach Hotel is once again the spectacular venue for the event, where a veritable tinder box of discussion and debate has already unfolded. Fittingly for the hotel designed to represent a breaking wave, many of the day’s esteemed speakers alluded to an emphatic wave of growth to look forward to in the Middle East.
Respected guest speaker Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, Senior Economist for Standard Chartered Bank, Dubai, officially began proceedings with the first presentation of the day and described the challenging position that the global economy finds itself in.
He opened, “Today it is probably an understatement to say that we are at a turning point, either we really manage to climb the cliff or we fall.”
“For oil exporters here, especially in the GCC, 2012 will be a very good year and 2011 has already been a very good year.”
“There are many challenges ahead and headwinds for the whole world, but the challenges and the headwinds are very different if you sit in the established world and in the West or in the emerging world. But it looks like if the West doesn’t manage to get its act together, it will be difficult for the emerging markets to develop.”
Offering gasworld delegates an insight into the projections ahead for the Middle East, Dauba-Pantanacce added, “Right now, at least this year and next year, we could put MENA into two categories, the conflict countries and the non-conflict countries. For oil exporters here, especially in the GCC, 2012 will be a very good year and 2011 has already been a very good year.”
“Oil prices have been incredibly resilient. What is very important is not only the price, it is also the growth in the output. Higher oil prices and higher oil output means that GDP growth will be very good in 2011.”
“What’s for sure,” he added, “is that what started years ago, five or six years ago, is a process that has accelerated drastically since the 2008 crisis and is accelerating even more now - the historical shift of power from the West to the East. It is in play now on so many levels. Many elements point to that transition.”
Fellow guest speaker Gerry McElney followed, with an insightful presentation that explored the investment climate rather than the financial or economic picture. Explaining the wealth of opportunities in the region, McElney said, “The continued high price of oils and gas has allowed governments to invest substantially in new technologies and sectors. The tourist industry has also been growing substantially, which has actually benefited too from the high oil and gas prices. This high price will continue to enable ongoing high growth in the area.”
“Compared to Europe, we see an awful lot of opportunities where the debt or credit facility is concerned. As a region we feel that this area stands out as an opportunity for investors.”
Particularly effusive about the industrial gas prospects in the region were John Raquet and Iraj Ghorbani.
Spiritus Consulting’s Raquet provided the latest updates and projections for the Middle East gases business and was clearly in buoyant mood about the opportunities ahead. He said, “The region has a lot of natural gas and oil, natural and low-cost feedstocks. There’s greater investment in downstream, there’s going to be continuing investment in glass, pharmaceuticals and other sectors – and that’s why I’m optimistic that this will be a region that will provide a vibrant industrial gas market in the future.”
Ghorbani, founder and Managing Director of Iran’s leading industrial gases company Delvar Afzar, was enthusiastic about the country’s future role in the global LNG market. Demonstrating great confidence and pride, he explained, “As everybody knows, by having 34 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, Iran is the second biggest country in the world for natural gas resource, after Russia.”
“This is unique chance for our country to somehow develop this market - and actually these reserves of natural gas have increased in recent decades. Every day we are facing a new reserve and during the last three decades there has been a 230% increase in reserves, or discoveries of reserves, in Iran.”
“This is a very unique opportunity that we have in Iran - we have the complete supply chain all together in one place.”
Another ‘local’ participant Mahmut Ozbiyik, President of Turkey-based cryogenic equipment company ISISAN, was also optimistic about the LNG business during his presentation about Bulk LNG Applications. Describing the fillip in demand for LNG and the swelling number of LNG vessels crossing the world’s oceans, Ozbiyik said, “In the 1980s there were just a few major projects around the world, the major one being in Japan.”
“Now in 2010 this has enormously increased, there are more than 200 LNG vessels in the oceans at the moment – almost too many! There is growing potential for the LNG business.”
Decision-focused presentations of a more technical nature punctuated the day’s buoyant insights, as IMF Fluid Control’s Daniel Gambet discussed Make vs Buy, the argument for outsourcing, and Union Engineering’s Henrik Lyhne described the Advances of the CO2 Plant Technologies. In a region with a relatively young gases market that continues to evolve and flourish, many felt it was important to understand the different ways of separating CO2 – and Lyhne’s presentation certainly delivered.
Meanwhile Cryolor’s Nicolas Viard presented the Latest Generation Filling for Industrial Gas Filling Stations and during a perceptive speech, explained optimised cylinder filling operations - including the use of reciprocating pumps and the need to decrease product losses and reduce operational costs.
With the first day’s action having drawn to a close, delegates will reconvene later this evening for the Gala Dinner sponsored by prominent Middle East industrial gases group Gulf Cryo.
Follow the event online
If the Middle East interests your company but you can’t be there to take in the Arabian sunsets and the exclusive insights, follow the latest news and updates from the conference online here, via the brand new gasworld website.
The event resumes tomorrow with conference day two and presentations from Richard Goldstein (Taylor Minster Leasing), Hank Grieco (Helixso), Michael Blondin (VRV), Frank Finger and Fouad Haddad (both MEGA) and Jean-Luc Labat (Air Liquide).
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