As the first day of the conference draws to a close, delegates are reflecting on an afternoon of a slightly different, practical perspective and looking ahead to a formal cocktail party and conference dinner, sponsored by Global Gases.

The afternoon sessions began in earnest with a presentation from Dr Aldo Belloni titled Tonnage Gases – Make or Buy, providing the arguments for and against the make or buy supply of gases, the criteria for each option and the advantages each can offer. This was followed by John Raquet’s analysis of the Middle East markets, drawing on Spiritus’ expert consultancy figures and discussing the growth rates in the different gases markets, from both a global and Middle East perspective.

Raquet explained how the region, at present, is largely dominated by the packaged gases market and accounts for only 2% of the global market share – arguably the beauty of the region as it offers so much promise and potential. Describing the region’s market, he commented, “It is generally accepted that the region is underdeveloped. It’s a consumer driven, rather than technology push, kind of market.”

EIGA general secretary Frank Finger took to the stage later, exploring the growing demand for international standards and worldwide convergence between the industrial gas associations. Technical standards and regulatory norms are suggested as the key factors for any potential Middle Eastern association or affiliation, and such a practical tone was continued after a brief coffee break, when Air Products’ Richard Boocock addressed the audience.

Boocock stressed the need for consistency, support and understanding in the region, in order for it to be able to develop, while also highlighting the fundamental factor of proximity to significant markets. He said, “You can fly from Mumbai to Dubai in 2-3 hours, it’s a good place to be.”

It was also revealed that there may yet be an opportunity for the semiconductor industry in the Middle East, before Boocock brought his speech to a close and Eric Johnson of Atlantic Consulting provided the final speech of an encapsulating first day, delivering an overview of carbon capture and storage and both the issues and merits associated with this.

It’s a case of smiles all round as delegates shuffled out of the conference centre and discussed the topical points between one another, ahead of the cocktail party and conference dinner the same evening.