The Middle Eastern market and opportunities for end-users were the main focus at the fourth gasworld conference, held in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
After the success of gasworld’s first conference, which was held in Dubai, UAE, back in 2007, the pressure was on to make a return to the Middle East two years and two more conferences later, even more memorable.
Over 200 delegates – the largest attendance on record for gasworld – travelled from 32 different countries to attend the event, which promised an offering of insightful presentations, and the chance to discuss, debate and learn about new developments and opportunities for suppliers and consumers of industrial gases, in the Middle East and further afield as well.
The Middle East has natural resources that are geared towards the oil and gas industry and downstream products. Low energy costs in the past have also led to the development of high energy processes being established, such as steel and aluminum production.
Despite tighter economic circumstances, the Middle East is still attracting investment in basic raw materials and very much value-added downstream products, making it a significant emerging market for our industry at present.
Industries are facing challenges to become more efficient, be more environmentally focused, and to develop new and existing uses for by-product gases. The industrial gases industry is well placed to support consumers in addressing these issues.
With its huge natural gas and oil reserves, Abu Dhabi seemed the ideal spot to deliberate on the Middle East’s economy and market direction, both of which are very relevant to future growth in the industrial gases business.
The venue for the conference, the Beach Rotana Hotel, was the ideal location for a conference focusing on the staggering potential of the Middle East.
Juxtaposing sumptuous luxury with a backdrop of construction, the resort served to remind delegates of the wealth of the Emirates, and its ambitious investments; two factors spelling good things for the industrial gas business.
The conference began with a pre-registration cocktail party, which was sponsored by Inox India.
Excitable delegates introduced themselves to each other, and the evening was abuzz with anticipation of the following day’s events.
The first session of day one was entitled, ‘Drivers for Growth’, and tackled subjects like carbon capture, and petrochemicals in the Middle East.
Gasworld was very privileged to have secured Frances Moffett-Kouadio, the British Embassy’s Director of Trade and Investment, as the first speaker of the conference.
She discussed business in the Middle East, and gave delegates advice on how to move into the region, as well as offering information on Abu Dhabi’s 2030 vision.
Given the tough time our industry has experienced since the financial crisis hit back in 2008, it seemed fitting to begin our gas presentations with an all-round look at the present market. John Raquet, of Spiritus Consulting, offered his opinions.
“This year we’ve all felt the pain haven’t we,” he started, “The Emirates may have bucked the trend slightly but there’s no doubt that in the Middle East you’ve also had challenging times.”
“This is the first decline I have seen since before 1980, gases sales have declined between 10 to 15% in some cases, but for 45% of the audience here, in terms of equipment sales, you’ve been suffering even more, ranging between 20-40% drop.”
Raquet quickly switched to a brighter note however, saying, “I want to talk about positive things! We do see an edging up in demand for gases, there are a number of projects out there that are due on stream now and next year.”
He also focused on the Middle East market specifically, “Clearly a large fluctuation of oil prices has had an impact, and there’s been a slowdown in project activity, but investment in this region is not just in the oil and gas sector – there’s construction, and construction means metal, it means glass, it means concrete, and all these things need gases in some way.”
Other highlights of the morning session included a focus on petrochemicals in the Middle East from CMAI’s Tony Potter, and an interesting introduction to carbon capture and storage(CCS) technologies, from Dr Bernd Holling of Linde Gas.
As global warming finger pointing increases worldwide, technologies like CCS are becoming more and more critical to our industry and the good press it receives, it therefore served as a relevant topic to include in this conference’s agenda.
“For many countries, the capture of CO2 is an issue,” Holling began.
“For carbon capture there are the following three activities; Pre-Combustion (IGCC), Oxyfuel (oxycoal), and Post-Combustion(PCC).”
Discussing Linde’s efforts in this field he added, “There are a number of companies working in PCC technology; RWE, BASF and Linde Engineering signed a cooperation agreement in 2007, with an aim to develop advanced PCC technology.”
“This partnership shows strong engagement and will guarantee the implementation of PCC solutions for the power industry.”
On a similar topic, Henrik Lyhne, of Union Engineering, commented, “The driver in the Middle East region in terms of CO2 is oil prices, and an even stronger argument would be the pressure from the rest of the world to reduce our carbon footprint; we believe the Middle East will get more attention in the future.”
In his presentation, entitled, ‘On-purpose vs Recovered Merchant CO2’, Lyhne noted the advantages of self-generating technology in relation to the by-product method.
Lyhne’s presentation took place in the second session of the morning, entitled ‘Carbon dioxide and Nitrogen Opportunities’, which was introduced by Chairperson Naji Scaf, of Gulf Cryo. Also to speak on this topic was Krish Krishnamurthy, of Linde Gas.
Krishnamurthy discussed the uses of nitrogen and carbon dioxide for enhanced oil and gas recovery, he said, “Compared to some of the other gases, nitrogen and CO2 offer, we believe, good economics.”
Continuing on the subject of CCS, Krishnamurthy added, “CCS is expected to create CO2 sources in the future. There’s a lot of questions about CCS, we believe that in development it has good economics.”
The morning session was brought to an end with a useful presentation on LNG storage and distribution from Ros Roca’s Carlos Duran, and after a delicious lunch, sponsored by Middle Eastern company Gulf Cryo, the afternoon session began.
The afternoon speakers were introduced by Neil Amber, of UIG. First to the stage was Lydall’s Nicolas Pezzano, who gave the delegates a helpful introduction to the art of controlling cryogenic temperatures.
Pezzano’s presentation was complemented by Inox India’s Savir Julka, and Italian VRV’s Jan Van Houwenhove, who both gave informative speeches on cryogenic storage tanks; Julka looking at the safety aspect, whilst Van Houwenhove focused on the economics of the different transportation methods on offer.
A successful first day was celebrated with a gala dinner, which was sponsored by the Linde/ADNOC joint venture company, Elixier.
The morning of day two, Chaired by Cryolor’s Ravin Mirchandani, and entitled, ‘Driving Business Opportunity’, got off to a fantastic start, with a fascinating insight into the blooming Iranian market, from Delvar Afzar representative, Iraj Ghorbani.
Ghorbani said, “The Iranian industrial gases businesses has shown strong growth over the past few years and looks to be growing rapidly over the next 10 years, the Iranian market has essentially grown by an average rate of 10% per year.”
He focused on the key sectors in the region adding, “In Iran, oil, petrochemical, steel and cement are still big consumers of industrial gases.”
As well as an overview of mergers and acquisition activity in the Middle East gas market over the past few years from Spiritus’ John Raquet, delegates were also treated to an engaging presentation from Air Liquide’s Middle East Branch Manager, Linda Lefevre, who looked at the make vs buy decisions industrial gas companies will face.
As the first session of the morning came to an end, a delegate was taken ill, and the gasworld team decided to postpone proceedings until more was known about his condition.
On receiving information from the hospital that the delegate had sadly passed away, it was decided by the conference team, that the remainder of the conference should be cancelled.
Included in this special supplement are text versions of the presentations which were not given on the second conference day.
Please also take the time to read our tribute to Dr Paul Karam.
Gasworld would like to take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathies to Dr Karam’s family, and all at Gulf Cryo.
Tribute to Dr. Paul Karam
It is with great sadness that during the second day of the Abu Dhabi gasworld conference, Dr. Paul Karam – General Manager of Gulf Cryo’s Qatar business – collapsed while attending as a delegate and later passed away due to heart failure.
He was born in 1943, obtained a degree in pure Chemistry and was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of London. He held a post-doctoral fellowship for one year at Queen Mary College, London. During his post-graduate and post-doctoral period of education, he published several papers and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He joined Gulf Cryo Kuwait in 1993 and was General Manager until his retirement in 2004. He rejoined the group in 2007 as Senior Vice-President, Group Audit and Risk Division and in 2008 became a General Manager of Gulf Cryo’s branch in Qatar. Dr. Paul had over 30 years of industrial experience in the Middle East.
Mr. Amer Huneidi, Chairman and CEO of the Gulf Cryo Group paid the following tribute to the late Paul Karam, “I have known Paul closely for more than 17 years. We worked together over that period of time and became friends almost immediately. He was a genuine person respected by all who worked with him. Gulf Cryo would not be today what it is without some major achievements made by this remarkable man. I am sorry to have lost such a friend.”
John Raquet, Managing Director of Spiritus Consulting and founder of gasworld, also paid the following tribute, “I am very saddened by the loss of Paul. He was actually the first ever person I met in the industrial gases business in the Middle East, way back in 1993. He was a kind and thoughtful person and well versed on the gases business in the region as a whole. I know our industry and his colleagues at Gulf Cryo will miss him dearly, but I would like to remember him with the thought that he passed away doing what he loved.”