The curtain has now fallen on the MENA Industrial Gas Conference 2015, with the ongoing developments in Iran a major talking point for exhibitors and delegates alike.
The Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai (UAE) has been the venue for a record conference for gasworld, with more than 275 delegates in attendance and more than 40 separate visitors to the exhibition hall. Over 40 promotional booths were on show at the event.
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 had set the scene with an exploration of the economic and investment climate in the region and the ‘attractive’ drivers for growth, as well as a focus on safety from the Middle East Gases Association (MEGA), day two provided a platform for more exploration of the merchant markets.
Air Liquide’s Omar Germouni, Middle East Business Director, independent consultat Jan Vansant, and AGC Instruments Managing Director Marcus Creaven were all on the gasworld stage to discuss innovation, merchant CO2 (carbon dioxide) applications, and quality control of industrial/specialty gas, respectively.
Germouni provided the first presentation of the session and said, “In the MENA region we have heard about the challenges due to the economic slump at the hands of the oil prices, but also about the global economic slowdown, especially in China. We’ve heard about many opportunities for industrial gases in the MENA region. Standards need to be defined in terms of safety, regulations need to be built, and I think we all agree that there are some solid trends in the market that enable us to keep developing in the region.”
”Standards need to be defined in terms of safety, regulations need to be built, and we all agree that there are some solid trends in the market that enable us to keep developing in the region…”
“Today we are going to shift gears and talk about innovation which, in my opinion, is a both a must and a major growth driver for the industry,” he explained.
“In my opinion, innovation must be embedded in all of our growth drivers to ensure sustainable value creation in the region for all stakeholders.”
“I believe our industry in the MENA region is ready for innovation.”
Germouni cited outsourcing, energy efficiency, environmental concerns, changing consumption habits, the growing need for accessible, affordable and adaptable healthcare solutions, urbanisation, and digitisation as key areas requiring innovative solutions in the MENA region. He also described the ‘clues and triggers’ for innovation demand (excess capacities, pricing pressures, cyclical downturns, squeezed margins) and offered a strong call to action.
“We need fast growing markets; we need to listen carefully to what customers are asking and try to innovate both with them and for them; we should definitely not try to reinvent the wheel, instead we should bring innovation from adjacent markets and adapt them to local needs; and lastly we need to understand and overcome the entry barriers in the region,” he enthused.
Vansant switched the focus to CO2 and described the many merchant applications, from food and beverages to oil and gas and less obvious usages such as in ‘stunning’ in-between. He then looked ahead to other applications such as the supermarket supply/logistics chain, traditional and emerging uses in food processing, in coal bed methane (CBM) operations, and the increasing deployment of dry ice surface cleaning across a range of industries.
Amidst the plentiful discussion about growth drivers and opportunities throughout the event, Creaven took a moment to reflect on the need to address the sometimes ‘forgotten’ analytical requirements in the business. He explained, “In analytics, it’s a capital intensive purchase, but once you do purchase a gas chromatograph (GC), you will find that your revenues do increase.”
“A good quality control programme or practice needs to start from the top management. I learned this when I first came to the Middle East a number of years ago,” Creaven added. “If you do not put it in place, it will ultimately not succeed. If you have someone that is able to put a good quality control process in place, you can measure your products and operations.”
“And I’m seeing that as a big growth driver here in the Middle East, it’s a competitive market and all of the players are driving each other forward, in my experience.”
Arguably the most keenly anticipated presentation of the day came courtesy of Mack Valves’ Dr. Fatemeh Didehvar, as she discussed the Iranian industrial gas opportunity.
The ongoing situation in Iran had been a pertinent point for delegates and exhibitors alike during the two-day conference, and Dr. Didehvar’s insights shed further light on both the dynamics and future potential in the country.
She explained, “I am very grateful to speak on behalf of 85 million people who survived through revolution, war and sanctions - and now look forward to a beautiful scenery of globalisation and changing the game in the Middle East.”
“I would like to initiate discussion about growth in the Middle East, in the second-largest country that is, Iran. The monumental agreement signed in July 2015 between Iran and major global powers will see intensive inspections and restrictions on its nuclear programme. But it will also see Iran benefit from more than $100bn in assets currently frozen, and a large potential foreign market with consumer expenditure to be over $170bn.”
“Once the sanctions are lifted, we will see the metallurgical and petrochemical share of the industrial gas market increase, the conversion of captive operation production facilities to onsite, and new commercial onsites…”
“The IMF predicts annual growth of Iran’s $420bn economy would rise by as much as 2-5% in the first year after a final nuclear deal, alone.”
Dr. Didehvar continued, “Iran is home to the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves. There is a huge opportunity for global energy companies, especially European firms.”
“Besides the promising vision, there are short-term and medium term obstacles which Iranian companies face on a daily basis, most focused on Swift codes, banking systems, and budget constraints of private companies. These short-term obstacles will be sorted out straight away in 12-18 months.”
Medium term obstacles include the need to produce more gas, and the need to build infrastructure to connect to Europe, both of which are lacking, she said.
A new wave of industrial and economic growth is forecast immediately after the sanctions are lifted, creating a multi-billion dollar business boom from local and foreign companies. “Once the sanctions are lifted, we will see the metallurgical and petrochemical share of the industrial gas market increase, the conversion of captive operation production facilities to onsite, new commercial onsites, and we will see petrochemical and steel plants contribute highly to the market in the future.”
Technologies and applications
Following an appetising lunch provided by Dohmeyer, the day’s activity continued with a dedicated commercial session, putting the emphasis on the new technologies and applications shaping the market in the present and future.
Industrial Gas Project House (IGPH) Managing Director Ian Davies made a particular statement during his presentation, revealing a series of technological breakthroughs for the venture that include 450 bar cylinder filling, 600 bar shock-tested valves for oxygen service, and 300 bar LNG pumping technology for LNG vessels and vehicles.
“The future has arrived. We have the 450 bar cylinder filling technology; we have the 600 bar shock-tested valves for oxygen service; we have the 350 bar technology for LNG pumping; and we now have fully automated, intelligent plant systems, complete with complete building block software.”
“This is not theory, this is not on the drawing board - we have delivered it,” he affirmed.
Davies underlined the magnitude of these developments, unveiled for the first time anywhere at the conference, as he said, “Just imagine what that does for your efficiency. Not only is that efficient for you, it’s also efficient for your user.”
gasworld founder and CEO John Raquet then brought the curtain down on the conference. With a record crowd in attendance, a promotional booth programme of more than 40 companies and some of the hottest topics in the region’s gases industry thoroughly discussed and debated, the MENA Industrial Gas Conference 2015 proved itself an event not to be missed.
Raquet thanked delegates, speakers and sponsors alike and concluded, “Well this it - it is my pleasure to close the event for the two days. I’d like to thank all of the speakers, all of the chairman and all of you for taking the valuable time to be here, we hope that you found it interesting and progressive, and all of our sponsors throughout the event.”
“This is the largest conference we’ve held, the feedback has been extremely positive, and we are delighted to have been back here in Dubai with you all. It’s certainly been a very friendly conference, and we hope that you have made new contacts and go home richer in both relationships and business insight.”
A full review of the MENA Industrial Gas Conference 2015 will be published in the upcoming January 2016 edition of gasworld magazine.
gasworld conferences return next year with events in Europe, Southeast Asia and the Helium Summit 2.0 event in New Jersey, US.
For more information, contact Hattie Frisby at +44 1872 225031