The warm weather of the Chilean sun, combined with the even hotter climate of discussion and debate, has ensured the gasworld South & Central America Conference 2009 has been a resounding success so far.

Day one may have just drawn to a close, but the thirst for networking and further, informal discussion will be quenched later this evening at the formal cocktail party and Gala Dinner, provided courtesy of gasworld.

The conference began with an official opening and welcome speech from Spiritus Consulting Managing Director and gasworld co-founder John Raquet.

Raquet reflected on both the challenging times we are all currently facing, and the need to adopt a steely resolve and ‘roll-up our sleeves and work our way out of recession’.

Presentations from leading Chilean economist Michele Labbe, B-CESCO’s Juan Carlos Guajardo, and independent Business Consultant Eduardo Pelitti followed as these key figures from the region discussed the market and what is has to offer.

A flexible market
The theme for the morning was The Market Opportunities, with Labbe exclusively revealing to delegates that the Chilean and Latin American economies have experienced a boom in growth in recent years - a boom that ensures the region is well ‘prepared’ to cope with the current economic downturn.

Equally insightful was the presentation of Guajardo, who discussed the Future Developments in the Metals & Mining Industry and commented, “In terms of Latin America, we have 57% of the global market. The region is very attractive, Latin America is a region which is special geologically.”

The forecast for growth in Chile in the mining industry continues to be good, however since other areas are not growing so much, the overall growth in Chile could probably be better. We are very optimistic. There is a note of optimism for what is coming after the first part of this year, which will be difficult.”

Encouraging news & views
Rounding off the first session of the morning, Pelitti described the key growth drivers for the gases industry in South America and reassured that there will still be growth in the gases industry in Latin America, though it will of course be at a slightly slower rate following the effects of the global financial crisis.

Pelitti encouraged, “In Latin America we are used to adapting and not everything is bad. There will be opportunities for growth just as there has been in other crises, there will be opportunities to grow and much more.”

“We expect Latin America to grow and the gases industry here to grow, it will grow lesser than in the past but it will grow.”

One of the more intently anticipated presentations came from Spiritus’ Raquet, as he opened the morning’s second session and picked-up where Pelitti had left off, discussing the Global & South American Gas Markets.

Raquet enthused, “It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be difficult but our industry will still grow. Let’s not forget it is a capital intensive business, and I’ve not heard any companies saying they cannot find investment.”

“So let’s turn our attention to South and Central America. We described this as a region of opportunity and I’m still optimistic. There is a long way to go to reach up to the maturity levels of the US and Canadian markets, so again, I’m optimistic that this continent still has a long way to grow. It’s going to be tough, but I think we’ll find our way out of this.”

The first day of the conference also saw presentations from Linde’s Raghu Menon, Rick Kowey of Matheson Tri-Gas and the encouraging news from Marcelo Torres of Indura, that there is indeed a place in the market for independents.

Kowey sensationally revealed Matheson Tri-Gas’ desire to expand its presence into the South America market, coupled with the same drive and desire of its parent company Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC).

Kowey also urged delegates and companies to adopt a ‘spirit of collaboration’ and explained, “We have a renewed effort to expand our global presence of TNSC (including in South America), as we have in other parts of the world such as the Middle East and South Africa.”

“This is kind of a market area that we have not participated in to any large extent, so by and large our vantage point is very fresh and we see it as a very attractive market to invest in.”

“It is all about, really, the spirit of collaboration. Gas companies must come to South America with an open mind and the spirit of collaboration,” Kowey added.

Appetising afternoon
Later on and luminaries such as Universal Industrial Gas’ (UIG) Neil Amber, StatoilHydro’s Henning G. Langas, GPS’ Dr Roy Irani, and Taylor Wharton International’s Jim Gordon all took to the gasworld stage to discuss a range of topics.

Dr Irani insightfully informed delegates of the developments in the re-qualifying (or re-testing) of gas cylinders, while UIG’s Neil Amber described the technology and number of choices behind the installation of a merchant plant.

Langas informed delegates of the upcoming importance of hydrogen in the modern world and how the process of electrolysis could prove to be the most productive and effective source for this. Backstage and behind the scenes, this topic appeared to create much discussion and debate.

Taylor Wharton’s Jim Gordon provided the final presentation of a highly productive day, explaining the technology behind CryoScience and the role of this innovative, liquid nitrogen-consuming application in modern medical science.

CryoScience, it would appear, has a fundamental role t play in pioneering medical achievements, not to mention its functional use in the laboratory for many research studies.

Eventful evening
Delegates left the conference arena armed with both a broadened awareness and a platform for further discussion and debate. A Gala Dinner courtesy of gasworld at Castillo Hidalgo will this evening complete a highly successful first day of this Latin American adventure.

Another insightful eight hours of discourse will begin early tomorrow morning (local Chilean time), as Day Two begins to unfold at around 8:30am and opens with another informative presentation from Dr Roy Irani.

After covering the Latin American economy and its market opportunities today, Day Two will focus on the theme of Technology and Operational Efficiency Trends. You can keep up with all of tomorrow’s action as it unfolds, through the comprehensive reports, updates and live blog available via the gasworld website.

Don’t miss it!