The third and final day of gasworld’s third African conference was sure to capture the imagination and attention of everyone in the audience as many of the six presentations featured the subject of ‘the future’.

Either directly or indirectly, many of the fantastic subjects involved predictions or forecasts about what the future could hold for us all in the Industrial Gases business. The day began with gasworld publisher John Raquet taking to the stage to thank everyone for attending the conference. He also thanked Air Products for sponsoring the previous evening’s dinner which he stated that ‘everyone had spoken to him saying they enjoyed the evening’ – which received a rapturous applause.

Chairman for the first session of speakers of the day, and session four of the conference, was Sosan A. Akpleyi from Air Separation Nigeria – who spoke briefly to introduce the company he works for.

“We provide medical grade oxygen to hospitals,” he said and continued with a passionate chart of how the company came into being before closing by stating that he takes “great pride out of the service we provide in Africa.”

He then introduced the first speaker of the day, which saw Raquet step back up to the podium and present his information on the Global Market Outlook – this time on behalf on his consultancy firm, Spiritus.

He stated, “In 2012 the gases industry reached a total worth of $78bn. But there was a slowdown in this time frame to about 5% growth in the year. Spiritus’ five year forecast says that between 7 to 7.5% growth can be expected – which is good news.”

“Our business is solid and is well respected. The global recession in 2009 was the first time in nearly 25 years that the worth of the industry actually shrank.”

Raquet continued with financial presentation slides showing data and the impact of business deals, M&A, and company developments or news.

“We have to keep our eye on profitability,” he proclaimed. “Our industry has grown from being worth $9bn in 1980 to the figure I spoke of at the beginning of this presentation.”

“As I said yesterday, LNG is a buzz-word in the US but like Peter (Cromberge) said yesterday LNG is big news in both east and west Africa.”

“What’s very important are these trade zones that are being created. There are aims of a common market being established in 2015 and a single currency created in 2018.”

Next to the stage was Global Gases’ Phil Kornbluth, who continued the theme of looking to the future when he spoke about the Helium Market Outlook.

He said, “Global helium markets remain in the midst of a sever shortage which began in March 2011. The shortage was caused by production constraints and maintenance issues.”

“But shortages should be rectified by the end of 2013 with a slow-down starting from Q3 this year. The other thing to be aware of is the Helium Cliff – a phrase coined by us working with gasworld that seems to have caught on.”

“There has been lots of discussion in the US regarding what can be done about the BLM’s Helium Reserve. Only last week there was progress made regarding this and it looks like issues may have been solved.”

“Legislation is needed because the Federal Helium Program will run out of funding when the program’s debt is repaid this year.”

“If the new bill is not enforced before the debt is repaid, the BLM pipeline could be shutdown and sales of crude helium from the reserve could be discontinued.”

“This could see an auction scenario where companies will be bidding for helium. But the house and senate bills are quite contradictory and lack of agreement on the issues being highlighted may delay or jeopardise the Helium Stewardship Bill from being passed.”

Kornbluth concluded by saying that should the bill be passed, there shouldn’t be any helium supply issues until 2020. But he highlighted that these could be solved should Gazprom’s bold plans for the Eastern Siberian Helium Project come on stream, as predicted by the company, in 2018.

Saftey was next on the agenda when the SACGA’s Albert Spencer gave his presentation about an Update of the association’s activities.

“In the 70s the four gas companies in South Africa established a technical committee,” said Spencer, adding “safety and standardisation became prevalent in 97 and in 99 the SACGA (South Africa Compressed Gases Association) was created.”

“The SACGA are benchmarking themselves against the best. There are, however, millions of illegal driving licenses in circulation in this country, which would explain the driving behaviour highlighted by some here in the presentations at this conference.”

“Driving is the main issue regarding safety in Africa. The driver cameras, although unpopular at first, are there to help drivers.”

Spencer continued to describe the work of the SACGA and detailed how often the groups meets and echoes that of other safety groups like the CGA and EIGA.

He concluded with “industrial gases have wide use in a number of industry sectors and are invaluable in the correct use. But untrained persons, particularly youngsters, should not mess with gas cylinders.”

Following a brief coffee break, session five began when Michael Peine took to the stage.

Peine, from FillTech, was speaking about the work of the Industrial Gas Project House in his presentation called ‘Optimise Supply Chain Through Supply Chain’.

He highlighted that there is a current trend at the moment of industry shifting from static filling plants to mobile filling plants as mobile is “much quicker” at filling in remote locations “reduced the risk of losses and has a quicker speed of response”.

Peine then provide examples including an offshore gas generation project and a mobile CO2 Puming project which the IGPH worked on.

He concluded by summarising the benefits of using the IGPH and urged interested audience members to visit them at their booth.

Next was Herose’s Director Keith Stewart – who spoke energetically about LNG and the licence to operate safely.

He began by stating that “LNG is being used for bulk shipping, ship refueling, energy, shale gas and vehicle refueling (around the world). It has a 10% share of global activity and will continue to keep growing – as long as it is used safely.”

“Like John (Raquet) highlighted yesterday, LNG is booming in a variety of regions and I’m finding it fascinating. New uses of LNG are found on a regular basis.”

“But it needs to be safe usage.”

“In the 1990s there was a serious accident which cost a gas company $250m. For this new sector to enjoy the success it should have, it needs to be used in a safe way. And by accessing it in the huge shale fields just north of South Africa it could bring in a lot of money for us all.”

Stewart continued by saying there are three industries – Oil and Gas, Industrial Gas, and LNG. “But for me, there should be one set of standards that all these three abide by,” he said.

“If we are going to keep the industry safe, who will enforce it?”

“In the USA LNG is an Industrial Gas and soon it will be the case worldwide. It is a fuel for the future and it will be if it is used safely.”

The morning sessions concluded with a presentation from Helmut Reichenauer, from Worthington Cylinders, who spoke about recent developments in cylinder design and handling.

Reichenauer spoke of the variety of ways cylinders are made citing two options – the billet or the tube.

He detailed the benefits and downfalls of both options before stating the billet is the preferred option as it is seamless and uniformed before detailing a variety of other options – including the vital painting or powder coating of the cylinder.

He concluded with discussing that the finish of a cylinder and overall appearance is vital as it is a reflection of the company that solid and produced it.

For lunch, delegates were treated to a smorgasbord of food – which was provided by the sponsor, gasworld.

The conference concludes today at 4pm before delegates are treated to the final day’s informal dinner, which has kindly been sponsored by SASOL.