Another progressive day of discussion and debate has brought the curtain down on the first-ever Europe Industrial Gas Conference 2015.
Around 140 delegates from 25 countries and no less than 80 companies gathered at the Flamenco Hotel in Budapest for the event, highlighting the significance of the region to local and international companies alike.
Activity in the promotional booth arena was vibrant throughout, and the footfall continues for another two hours following the closure of the conference.
After day one set the scene with an exploration of the economic and investment climate in the region, as well as a call to action for more ‘fresh thinking’ in the industry, day two was seamlessly epitomised by a programme of topics around innovation and new market opportunities.
Keynote speakers included:
First to the stage was Saraux, attempting to provide a view through the industrial gas ‘crystal ball’ with various market projections and a compelling case for why there is still growth to be enjoyed in the European market.
He explained, “In Western Europe, if we follow the production growth and we are able to follow the modernisation and outsourcing trend of the industry, then definitely the growth is there.”
“In Eastern Europe we need to continue the development that has been ongoing throughout the decades, but we also need to engage in the industry transformation, embrace new gas usages and clients, and engage in the invention and implementation of new business models.”
This was followed by Lewis, who questioned whether the industrial gases business really is investing enough in R&D and provided statistics about the level of spend in the field of innovation.
Concluding the morning’s first session was Dr. Halmø, highlighting the business case for LNG. He cited the fact that Europe will need 43 mtpa (million tonnes per annum) more LNG by 2025, and 65 mtpa more LNG by 2040, and added, “The world needs energy and increasingly the climate situation will become desperate – and it will take a much stronger international position to meet current emission reduction targets.”
“Is distributive LNG a business opportunity? Yes, in my view. This is based upon five compelling factors: security of supply, climate, economy, quality of fuel, and because the oil companies hate it, opening up the market to independents – and industrial gas companies.”
Technology ‘permeating society’
Ahead of a sumptuous lunch provided by Cryostar, the day’s second session continued the theme of innovation across both the energy sector and operational activities.
A dual presentation from Air Products’ Jon Trembley and Dearman’s Michael Ayres explored the growing challenge in the energy sector in terms of the development of renewable energies and energy storage. Ayres spoke of the global demand for cooling and the synergy between cold chains and LNG, as eulogised by Dearman Senior Group Managing Director Toby Peters in a recent column for gasworld magazine.
He added that Dearman is currently developing a low-capital cost premium product or static applications, while Trembley questioned if the existing infrastructure can cope with the added demand created by new cold chains. His response was a cautious affirmation in the short-term, but with the acknowledgement that further investment will be required in the longer term.
Throwing the spotlight on supply chain optimisation were Weldcoa’s Hector Villarreal and TrackAbout’s Doug O’Dell.
Villarreal essentially underlined how ‘technology is permeating society’ and what that could do to enhance operations in the European gases industry, citing countless successful case studies the company has worked upon in North America, for example.
In a similar vein, O’Dell discussed the digital revolution, the rise of savvy smartphone enabled tracking technologies, and left delegates in no doubt about the benefits that today’s asset tracking technologies could bring to their businesses.
gasworld founder and CEO John Raquet then brough the curtain down on the conference, thanking delegates, speakers and sponsors alike and commenting, “Our theme was Two Markets, One Goal. We were presenting the possibility that Europe may be facing challenges in growth in the next five years, but innovation must be a factor behind boosting that growth – and that has been the theme behind many of our presentations.”
“I want to thank you, the audience – you’ve been a very attentive audience and the number of people here right to the end just shows not only how attentive you have been, but also underlines the significance of the challenges – and opportunities – facing this region.”
A full review of the conference will also be published in the upcoming July edition of gasworld magazine.